Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Sports

Spring Hill traverses seldom-travelled state path


Published:

Talk about following along the road less traveled.

That’s the goal for skipper Erik Andress’ two-time defending District 6 and defending state champion Spring Hill AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars beginning with Saturday’s opening-round of the 24th annual Dixie Baseball State Championship in Arcadia.

Only one previous Hernando County program – Brooksville’s Majors (ages 17-19) All-Stars – have-ever captured back-to-back titles in the same age group.

Hernando High Hall of Fame skipper Ernie Chatman guided the 1981-83 Majors teams to rare air space: back-to-back-to-back state crowns.

The last back-to-back state crowns by anyone associated with Hernando County Dixie Baseball belong to Tim Sims’ 1999 Brooksville Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) and the 2000 Brooksville Majors All-Stars.

Tracing Hernando County’s 18 lifetime state crowns, HHS’ current mentor Sims holds the county record with four state crowns while Chatman and Spring Hill’s Shawn Laferty have each collected three state titles.

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This year’s Minors State Tournament includes 10 teams in a six-day, double-elimination format featuring: Bartow, Lake Placid, Marianna, Sebring, South Lake, South Walton, Spring Hill American, West Seminole, West Volusia and host Desoto at the Walt Brewer Sports Complex.

The ultimate goal is to be crowned state champion Thursday night (weather permitting) and represent Florida in the 12-team, Aug. 9-14 AAA Minors World Series at Lexington, South Carolina.

SH American captured the league’s eighth District 6 title since 2002 on June 21 via an epic come-from-behind triumph over South Lake National at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex, 16-14.

Last summer, Andress’ club captured a state title at Freeport behind a 6-0 run. In all, the West Hernando County nine outscored its opponents, 63-17.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against host Desoto, Spring Hill will be represented for the 12th time at the AAA Minors state level.

The team features: catcher Owen Andress, outfielder/infielder Caden Bergantino, infielder/pitcher Talon Bergantino, infielder/pitcher Riley Cullum, outfielder/infielder/pitcher Quintin Hotop, infielder/pitcher Jacob Kelly, outfielder/catcher/pitcher Izzy LaRoche, infielder/pitcher Aiden Leskauskas, outfielder/infielder Salvatore LoDuca, outfielder/infielder Gavin McMurdo, infielder/outfielder/pitcher Jaxon Newhall and infielder/outfielder Sammy Sanchez.

Eleven of 12 players are returning All-Stars from either AA Rookies (ages 7-8) or Minors action in 2013.

Andress, whose team finished 13-3 (.813) last summer, will again be assisted by Mike Bergantino and Mike Cullum.

Since hoisting its District 6 banner, SH American has feverishly worked on improving. The biggest lesson learned from districts, according to Coach Andress, was his team coming in mentally prepared.

“You’ve got to have that switch turned on every time you step on the field,” pointed out Coach Andress. “At this level, you can’t take at-bats for granted and you can’t take plays off.”

The team’s point of emphasis since playing along Bushnell’s cozy 180-foot fences is tracking fly balls and solidifying its outfield play.

“Playing in Bushnell is a unique situation,” declared Coach Andress. “We weren’t really prepared for those short porches. We’ll be playing at a much more normal depth in Arcadia.”

As the tourney’s defending champs, Coach Andress clearly understands that spotlight will be directly on SH American.

“I’m OK with,” explained Coach Andress. “We try to come into every tournament as prepared as we can for everything and anything.”

On the prospects of opening up against the tourney hosts Desoto, “Last year, we were down 6-0 in our first game to Franklin County before we came back and won, 15-6,” recalled Coach Andress. “That win definitely set the tone. That’s where we got into a groove. I’m sure Desoto will be ready for us. We’ve got to be just as hungry as we were last year.”

On the keys to success, “This is a different team this year,” noted Andress. “We had a really athletic team last year. This time, we can swing the bats. We’d love to repeat, but it’s going to take a different set of parameters. Our goal is to do the best we can.”

At a Glance

What – 24th annual Dixie Baseball AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars State Tournament.

Who – Ten teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Bartow, Lake Placid, Marianna, Sebring, South Lake, South Walton, Spring Hill American, West Seminole, West Volusia and host Desoto. Defending champion is Spring Hill American.

Where – Walt Brewer Sports Complex, 1365 SE Hargrave St., Arcadia.

When – Saturday through Thursday (weather permitting).

At Stake – State champion advances to the 12-team World Series Aug. 9-14 at Lexington, South Carolina.

2014 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (ages 9-10) All-Stars

NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)

1 Sammy Sanchez* INF/OF

2 Izzy LaRoche* OF/C/P

3 Riley Cullum* INF/P

4 Owen Andress* C

6 Jaxon Newhall * INF/OF/P

7 Salvatore LoDuca OF/INF

8 Talon Bergantino* INF/P

9 Quintin Hotop* OF/INF/P

11 Jacob Kelly* INF/P

13 Caden Bergantino* OF/INF

21 Gavin McMurdo* OF/INF

34 Aiden Leskauskas* INF/P

* Denotes returning AA Rookies or AAA Minors All-Star

Head Coach – Erik Andress

Asst. Coach – Mike Bergantino

Asst. Coach – Mike Cullum

By the numbers: Florida’s All-Time AAA Minors All-Stars (ages 9-10) State Champions (1991-2013)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YEAR TEAM

1991 Northeast Pensacola

1992 Northeast Pensacola

1993 Pensacola-Bellview

1994 Pensacola-Bellview

1995 Northeast Pensacola

1996 Bartow

1997 Myrtle Grove

1998 Pensacola-Bellview American

1999 Myrtle Grove

2000 Oak Griner

2001 Bartow

2002 Bartow

2003 Bartow

2004 Marianna

2005 Spring Hill National

2006 Bartow

2007 Bartow

2008 West Seminole

2009 Sebring

2010 Bushnell

2011 West Seminole

2012 Sebring

2013 Spring Hill American

—23—

All-Time Hernando County Dixie Baseball State Champions (1981-13)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

YR TEAM W L .PCT COACH

1981 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) 5 1 .833 Ernie Chatman

1982 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) 5 1 .833 Ernie Chatman

1982 Brooksville Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 5 1 .833 Chuck Alderman

1983 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) 6 0 1.000 Ernie Chatman

1993 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) 4 1 .800 Tim Sims

1999 Brooksville Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 5 1 .833 Tim Sims

2000 Brooksville Majors (ages 17-19) 4 0 1.000 Tim Sims

2005 Brooksville Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 4 1 .800 Tim Sims

2005 Spring Hill National AAA Minors (10-U) 7 1 .875 David Smith

2008 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) 5 1 .833 Mike Sollazzo

2008 Spring Hill American AAA Majors (11-12) 6 1 .857 Shawn Laferty

2010 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 6 0 1.000 Al Sorrentino

2010 Spring Hill Pre-Majors (ages 15-16) 4 1 .800 Frank Vitale

2011 Spring Hill National AAA Majors (11-12) 7 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty

2011 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) 5 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton

2013 ## Spring Hill Boys 15-Under 3 1 .750 Anthony DiSciascio

2013 Spring Hill American AAA Minors (10-U) 6 0 1.000 Erik Andress

2013 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) 6 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty

TOTALS (18) —18—

## Denotes co-state champions with Winter Haven

The Road to “The Show”

District 6 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) Tourney Recap

at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex

06-14:

Wesley Chapel Navy – bye

Spring Hill American 9, Brooksville 8 (5.5 Innings)

Spring Hill National 6, San Antonio 5

South Lake National 13, Oak Grinner 0

Bushnell 8, Wesley Chapel 4

Wildwood 10, South Lake American 0

06-16:

South Lake American – bye

Spring Hill American 11, Spring Hill National 1

South Lake National 15, Bushnell 4 (8)

Wesley Chapel Navy 12, Wildwood 1

Brooksville 15, San Antonio 5

Wesley Chapel Blue 20, Oak Griner 5

06-17:

Spring Hill American – bye

South Lake National 8, Wesley Chapel Navy 5

Wesley Chapel Blue 3, Brooksville 1

Spring Hill National 8, South Lake American 5

Bushnell 13, Wildwood 7

06-18:

Spring Hill American 20, South Lake National 0 (4)

Wesley Chapel Navy 7, Wesley Chapel Blue 2

Spring Hill National 9, Bushnell 2

06-19:

South Lake National 14, Spring Hill National 8

Spring Hill American 4, Wesley Chapel Navy 1

06-20:

South Lake National 14, Spring Hill American 6

06-21:

(Championship)

Spring Hill American 16, South Lake National 14

2014 Final District 6 AAA Minors (ages 9-10) Standings at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Sports Complex

PL TEAM W L .PCT RS RA

1. Spring Hill American* 5 1 .833 66 38

1. South Lake National* 5 2 .714 78 62

3. Spring Hill National 3 2 .500 32 37

4.(tie) Wesley Chapel Navy 2 2 .500 25 15

4.(tie) Bushnell 2 2 .500 27 35

4.(tie) Wesley Chapel Blue 2 2 .333 29 21

7.(tie) Wildwood 1 2 .333 18 25

7.(tie) Brooksville 1 2 .333 24 17

9.(tie) Oak Griner 0 2 .000 05 33

9.(tie) San Antonio 0 2 .000 10 21

9.(tie) South Lake American 0 2 .000 05 18

TOTALS 21 21 .500

* Denotes will advance to July 12 AAA Minors State Championship in Arcadia.

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