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Tampa Bay heads back to regionals after win


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 1, 2001

A year after winning their first state title, the Tampa Bay majors have done it again.

The history was made Tuesday night in Winter Springs with a 13-2 victory over Jensen Beach in the state final.

Now, Tampa Bay makes its second consecutive trip to the Southern Regionals, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. in Toccoa, Ga., against the Louisiana state champion.

Last year, Tampa Bay finished as runner-up at regionals, just missing a trip to the Little League World Series. This time, however, Tampa Bay coach Don Barron believes his team has a great chance to go all the way.

"Put it this way, you don't win a state championship in Florida without being pretty darned good," Barron said. "There are a lot of great teams in Florida. So winning our second straight state title gives us a lot of confidence."

Four players from last year's team, including starting pitcher Anne Pilger, returned this season, which Barron thinks should help offer some perspective to his entire team.

"I think those four players can give the team some leadership," he said. "Those players know what to expect."

On Tuesday, Pilger threw a one-hitter, striking out five and walking three.

Second baseman Marissa Cessna led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBI. Shortstop Andrea Lewis and catcher Chrissy Clingan went 2-for-2 and 2-for-3 respectively with three RBI apiece.

Since district play, Tampa Bay has gone 10-1, and during its three games at the state tournament, Tampa Bay outscored its opponents 30-8.

"Everybody has just pulled it together, pitching, defense, hitting, attitude, everything," Barron said. "We have a good tradition at Tampa Bay Little League and these girls are a great indication of that."

9-10 DIVISION: Eau Galle defeated Plant City 10-6 Tuesday night to win the state crown.

Plant City entered the contest with one loss and needed to win to earn a rematch for the title. Plant City trailed the entire game against undefeated Eau Galle.

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