On Feb. 27, 1990, a new era began in Hernando County.
That was the day the county’s three existing softball slow-pitch programs – Central, Hernando and Springstead – officially altered to fast-pitch.
Throwing the inaugural pitch for the Hernando Lady Leopards was the same hurler who closed out the slow-pitch period the season before: senior right-hander Elizabeth Ann Krasemann.
The 5-foot-3 Krasemann, whose last name is now Scavuzzo, was the perfect choice to bridge generations. The multi-sport Scavuzzo was an old school gym rat in many ways.
“Liz” as her friends and teammates called her is the youngest of three children born in Brooksville to Wisconsin transplants Alan and Lois Krasemann.
Her father was a general contractor and ran Krasemann Construction while her mother was a domestic engineer.
Her parents, still residing in Brooksville, have been married longer than some countries exist – nearly 50 years.
From Scavuzzo’s formative years, her parents dutifully followed her exploits from middle school, to high school through her first two years of college ball.
“I was very shy as a young child,” explained the 41-year-old Scavuzzo. “Sports helped open me up.”
Scavuzzo’s initial organized sport was softball at 6 years old. She played in the Hernando Youth League until middle school.
At Parrott Middle School, she not only pitched for the Lady Leopards, but demonstrated her athletic versatility by playing basketball.
After matriculating to Hernando, Scavuzzo continued to blossom.
For four seasons she played setter in volleyball, played basketball as a freshman and sophomore, and lettered all four years of softball.
She did all this besides playing in the Royal Regiment Marching Band as a freshman and sophomore playing the saxophone.
Though she named All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference in volleyball in 1989, her bread and butter was on the diamond.
After her junior year, when HHS captured its final slow-pitch district title under Mike Majeske, the skipper suggested to Scavuzzo to take extra lessons in preparation for the conversion to fast-pitch.
“It was different,” recalled Scavuzzo on the switch. “My father set up some targets in the backyard and I’d go out there with a bucket of balls trying to hit them. I was fortunate to also take some lessons from Coach (Ernie) Chatman and Coach (T.V.) Chambers.”
As one of the sport’s local pioneers, Scavuzzo was never a fire-baller.
“I wasn’t known for my speed, I was known for my placement,” she recalled. “That’s something Coach Majeske instilled in me. Even if I didn’t throw hard, I could still change speeds, change locations and concentrate on hitting the corners.”
Though Scavuzzo switched from catcher Wendy Hart in 1989 to Karen Kelly in 1990, the transition was also smooth.
“It was excellent between us,” Scavuzzo said. “We knew exactly where we wanted the ball to be placed. Wherever she placed the glove, I tried to hit the spot.
“If ever I was in a tight spot, she’d come out. It was like she knew I just needed to catch my breath and refocus on the target,” detailed Scavuzzo.
Though the Lady Leopards were newbies in fast-pitch, so was practically everyone else they played.
Scavuzzo’s senior year began with a bang – highlighted by opening the season with 12 straight wins. Twenty-five years later, no Lady Leopard team had ever matched jumping out of the gate so efficiently.
“After the ’89 season I just knew we’d do well,” noted Scavuzzo. “I really thought we’d make the transition. We knew we had two good coaches in Majeske and (Brent) Gaustad. It was fantastic to come out of the gates 12-0.”
Prior to the postseason, however, arrived a cruel twist.
Five days prior to districts arrived word that due to budget cuts (Central had recently opened and HHS’ enrollment numbers slipped) that Majeske’s contract was not being renewed.
“We all wanted to take it as far as we could,” responded Scavuzzo to the announcement. “Why couldn’t they wait till after the season? The announcement kind of shocked us. We were fortunate that Gaustad was coming back.”
HHS’ first-ever fast-pitch season was highlighted with Class 3A, District 6 Tournaments wins at home over Springstead, 8-7, and Pasco, 11-7.
In the regional quarterfinals at Tom Varn Park, Tampa-Berkeley Prep brought down the curtains, 4-1.
“We lost to a darn good team,” recalled Scavuzzo. “We gave it our best. The dice didn’t roll our way. I was fortunate that it wasn’t my last-ever game.”
Scavuzzo, who hit .442 with 23 runs batted in besides compiling a 22-4 won-lost slate, caught the attention of two St. Petersburg Junior College coaches during the postseason Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star game in Brooksville. They offered her a scholarship to play for the Pinellas County program.
There was one caveat – she’d have to switch back to slow-pitch.
“Going back to slow-pitch wasn’t that hard,” said Scavuzzo. “Pitching fast-pitch is a different story. I welcomed the change.”
At St. Petersburg, “I had a great time. I loved the team; we all came together,” she said. “The talent was phenomenal. To me, it was a great fit. The entire experience reminded me of the teams we had at Hernando.”
In Scavuzzo’s second year at St. Petersburg, alongside former Lady Leopards Jill Penderghest and Norma Coleman, the club finished fifth in the state and ninth in the nation.
In searching of a four-year school that offered a nursing program, Scavuzzo listened to the advice of her counselor at HHS and got in contact with Division II Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia.
Within a week, she received a phone interview and a partial scholarship to make the nearly 14-hour and 898-mile trip to the Senators’ campus.
Again there was a catch: once again Scavuzzo would have to switch back to fast-pitch.
“Davis and Elkins is where I struggled,” lamented Scavuzzo. “Almost everyone on that team had played fast-pitch forever and that wasn’t my case. The team was fantastic and I shared the pitching duties and split time at second base.”
Two years later, she earned her coveted associates degree in nursing.
At Davis and Elkins, Scavuzzo’s parents could not see her every game. But as fate would have it, she met her future husband, Chris Scavuzzo.
The two were married in 1998 and currently reside in Hernando Beach with their two daughters: Jaden, 8, and 18-month-old Jenna.
While her husband works for Brown and Brown Insurance in Brooksville, Scavuzzo chose nursing as a path to help people.
“I was a candy stripper at Brooksville Regional back in the day and after volunteering there I was hooked for life,” she said.
Scavuzzo has been employed at Oak Hill Hospital since 1995.
Since 2011, she serves as the hospital’s educator and clinical coordinator of surgical services. In 2013, she added the role of robotics coordinator to her responsibilities.
These days, she’s cheering on another generation of fast-pitch players.
“I really didn’t realize it had been 25 years since I played at Hernando,” said Scavuzzo. “I think back then we didn’t realize what we were embarking on. It was so much fun to play on that first team. They threw us a twist after 1989 and I just wanted to keep playing.
“Twenty-five years later, I’m amazed at how hard they throw the ball,” detailed Scavuzzo. “To me, (current Hernando pitcher) Courtney (Riddle) is something. She makes it look so effortlessly; it’s just amazing. The play is so much better. I’m happy I played when I played. I’m so thankful for the experience.”
One thing that hasn’t changed, according to Scavuzzo, is the huge community support.
“One thing that motivated our team back then was the tremendous community support,” she said. “People came out to watch us and cheered us on that didn’t even have a child or family member on the team.
“I remember going to restaurants and stores and people recognizing me. They would stop me to tell me how they are rooting for us and wanted to see us go on. That kind of support for our team was priceless.”
Lately, Scavuzzo has been spending more time raising her young family and less and less time playing recreational co-ed softball.
Her lasting legacy is simple.
“I had to look up my stats, I wasn’t really into that,” she said. “What I take away from that era was that we were a team. I want to be remembered as a good teammate; that I had any of my teammates’ backs at all times. It’s really about being a good person.”
By the numbers: Hernando’s Liz Krasemann
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .AVG
1990 27 86 32 38 3 2 0 23 .442
YR GS IP H R ER SHO W L ERA
1990 26 152.2 124 86 49 2 22 4 2.25
* 1989: All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference softball selection.
* 1989: All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference volleyball selection.
* 1990: All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference softball selection.
* 1990: Tom Varn Award (1st female recipient).
* 1990: Tom Fisher Award (Most Outstanding Student/Athlete).
* 1991: All-Conference at St. Petersburg Junior College.
* 1991: All-Academic American at St. Petersburg Junior College.
* 1992: All-State Second Team at St. Petersburg Junior College.