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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

World Series dreams resonate in Sebring

Hernando Today correspondent


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Three local Dixie Boys Baseball All-Star squads – including two from Spring Hill, another from Brooksville – will trek approximately 130 miles for a pair of state championships at the City of Sebring’s Max Long Baseball Complex.

The 40th annual Senior Boys (age 14) State Tournament opens Saturday with 11 teams in an expected five-day (weather permitting), double-elimination format featuring: DeSoto, East Lakeland, Hardee County, Hernando County, Lake Placid, Mulberry, Okeechobee, Spring Hill, West Seminole, West Volusia and host Sebring. The defending state champion is Shawn Laferty’s Spring Hill nine.

Also on Saturday, the 19th annual Junior Boys (age 13) State Championship begins with three teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Bushnell, Spring Hill and West Volusia. The defending state champion is West Volusia.

Newly crowned state champions for both divisions will advance to their respective 12-team World Series Aug. 2-6 at Bossier City, La.

Spring Hill’s Junior Boys include: infielder/pitcher Hunter Berger, catcher/outfielder Henry Fernandez, infielder/pitcher Justin Fribbley, infielder/catcher/pitcher Jaylon Fuzz, outfielder Dylan Lambert, infielder/outfielder Kohl LaRoche, outfielder/catcher Jackson McLaughlin, outfielder P.J. Moss, infielder/pitcher Sam Roush, infielder/pitcher Sydney Sauto, outfielder/catcher Jake Scicli and outfielder/pitcher Ryan Scicli.

First-year mentor Bill Collins is at the controls and will be assisted by Chuck Fribbley and John Lambert.

Coach Collins has five 2013 Ozone (ages 11-12) All-Stars on his roster including: Fernandez, Fribbley, Fuzz, McLaughlin and Roush.

Despite displaying heart and determination in scrimmage games leading up to this weekend, Coach Collins believes his team enters as tourney underdogs.

He believes he has one of the fastest teams around and if his players reach base, they’ll be off to the races.

In a recent tune-up tournament in Plant City and Temple Terrace, Spring Hill finished 2-2. Playing on the bigger diamonds has given his team a sense of greater promise.

On the mound, Spring Hill will lean on its ace, Roush, followed by pair of number twos: Sauto and Fuzz.

“What I like about Sam (Roush) is he’s a leader and a hustler. He never takes plays off,” noted Coach Collins. “Both Sauto and Fuzz are not known as hard throwers but mix up their pitches up extremely well.”

At the plate, Coach Collins has penciled in Sauto and Roush to lead things off followed by a combination of Fuzz, the left-handed hitting Berger and Fribbley.

“We’ve got a little pop,” detailed Coach Collins. “And we don’t have one batter who can’t bunt. Playing small ball will be the key.”

Spring Hill opens the tiny event at noon Saturday against the defending state champs from West Volusia. On Sunday, they’re scheduled to face Bushnell at 5 p.m.

“For us, Game 1 sets the tone,” declared Coach Collins. “To me, it’s a must-win. It sets us up for the rest of the tournament.”

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Though Spring Hill’s Senior Boys arrive in Highlands without any district experience this summer, they did compete and fared well in the ultra-competitive Boys U-15 State Tourney at Bartow.

Spring Hill features: catcher/centerfielder Ryan Betz, catcher/pitcher Dakota Blevens, pitcher/first baseman Reagan Chapman, left fielder/second baseman/pitcher Brennan Cross, second baseman/pitcher Michael Ebberup Jr., right fielder/pitcher Zachary Funkhouser, pitcher/center fielder John P. “J.P.” Gates, catcher/pitcher Max Glenn, second baseman/catcher John Moran, shortstop/pitcher Dalton Mosser, third baseman/pitcher John Oliveira, first baseman/left fielder Domenick Rado, left fielder/pitcher Nick Vastano.

Spring Hill’s eight returning All-Stars include: Blevens, Chapman, Ebberup, Funkhouser, Gates, Mosser, Oliveira and Rado.

Skipper Mike Rado will be assisted by Patrick Freeman, Will Glenn and Randy Mosser. In the previous U-15 Tourney, Rado’s young club finished 1-3.

Rado admits the biggest lesson spawned from the Bartow event was the lack of maturity by some of his players. He noticed that went things got tough, some of his players got discouraged.

The point of emphasis since Bartow is building up the mental aspect of his team’s forces. To do that, Rado has purposely continued to practice under the summer’s extreme weather conditions to build mental toughness.

“I feel like the team is ready to play,” noted Coach Rado. “The kids understand this one is a big-time tournament. It’s one where you can make lasting memories. I’m so confident I’d play with this bunch against anybody.”

Spring Hill opens the event at 9 a.m. Saturday against DeSoto County. With an opening-round win, it’d face archrival Hernando County at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Coach Rado understands the pressure of carrying the burden as the defending states champs.

“I had nothing to do with last year’s team,” he said. “This isn’t the same group of guys Laferty had. But this group knows how to perform. The coaches have finished talking; it’s up to the players now. It’s important for us to just get off to a good start.”

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Like Spring Hill, Brooksville-based Hernando County did not play at districts due to the lack of available teams.

Veteran skipper Ed Ritter is walking into a tournament bracket he believes is unfairly drawn.

The original 12-team brackets had Hernando facing Bartow, until the Polk County team backed out at the 11th hour.

With Bartow’s departure, Ritter asked the Dixie state officials to redraw the brackets. Instead, they left the brackets unchanged giving Hernando a first-round bye.

“Plain and simple, we got screwed on the brackets and you can print that,” insisted Ritter. “They should have redrawn the brackets, but didn’t. I’ve got a real problem with this format. We want to play Saturday. Instead we’re being forced into playing a doubleheader on Sunday.

“To me, this is a huge disadvantage for a team and the coaches, especially since we didn’t play districts,” added Ritter.

This summer’s 12-member team features: shortstop Trevor Adler, second baseman/outfielder Tyler Adler, outfielder/pitcher Jonathan Allion, first baseman Ryan Becker, catcher Patrick Dresser, outfielder/pitcher Adorian Holland, second baseman/third baseman Carson Lashley, catcher/pitcher John Schiele, first baseman/outfielder Kobe Simon, outfielder/pitcher Grey Sims, shortstop/pitcher Wyatt Stewart and second baseman/pitcher Kevin Tomas.

Lashley is the lone returning AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Star from last summer.

Ritter will be assisted by Chad Sims and Kevin Tomas.

Painting broad strokes, Coach Ritter believes he has more talent top to bottom than he’s seen in years. The one concern might be the lack of an ace or top-flight No. 1 pitcher.

“Every one of these boys has the ability to hit. When our pitchers are on, we’re on,” he said. “One of our biggest strengths is having eight guys who have played travel ball. Hopefully, that commitment carries over from the beginning this weekend.”

At a Glance

What: 40th annual Dixie Baseball Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars State Tournament and 19th annual Dixie Baseball Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars State Tournament.

Who: Senior Boys – DeSoto, East Lakeland, Hardee County, Hernando County, Lake Placid, Mulberry, Okeechobee, Spring Hill, West Seminole, West Volusia and host Sebring. Junior Boys – Bushnell, Spring Hill and West Volusia.

Where: City of Sebring’s Max Long Baseball Complex.

When: Saturday through Wednesday.

At Stake: State champions advance to respective 12-team World Series Aug. 2-6 at Bossier City, La.

2014 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars


2 Dalton Mosser* SS/P

4 Michael Ebberup Jr.* 2B/P

9 Ryan Betz C/CF

15 John Oliveira* 3B/P

16 Nick Vastano LF/P

18 Brennan Cross LF/2B/P

21 John P. “JP” Gates* P/CF

25 Zachary Funkhouser* RF/P

27 Domenick Rado* 1B/LF

30 Reagan Chapman* P/1B

38 Dakota Blevens* C/P

42 John Moran 2B/C

44 Max Glenn C/P

* Returning All-Star.

Head Coach – Mike Rado

Assistant Coach – Patrick Freeman

Assistant Coach – Will Glenn

Assistant Coach – Randy Mosser

2014 Hernando County Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars


2 Tyler Adler 2B/OF

5 Trevor Adler SS

9 Patrick Dresser C

10 Carson Lashley* 2B/3B

11 Ryan Becker 1B

13 Wyatt Stewart SS/P

23 Kobe Simon 1B/OF

28 Kevin Tomas 2B/P

34 Jonathan Allion OF/P

39 Adorian Holland OF/P

42 John Schiele C/P

44 Grey Sims OF/P

* Denotes 2013 AAA Majors All-Star

Head Coach – Ed Ritter

Assistant Coach – Chad Sims

Assistant Coach – Kevin Tomas

All-Time Hernando County Senior Boys State Results (2000-13)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2001 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Gerald Johnson

2003 ^ Brooksville 3 2 .600 Cliff Manuel

2004 Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Doug DeRespris

2005 Spring Hill 1 2 .333 John Maggard

2008 $$ Spring Hill 5 1 .833 Mike Sollazzo

2009 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Joe Abbadessa

2010 Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Shawn Laferty

2011 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Brent Young

2011 Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Vito Tambasco Sr.

2012 Brooksville 0 2 .000 Ed Ritter

2012 Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Gary Myers

2013$$ Spring Hill 6 0 1.000 Shawn Laferty

TOTALS 33 21 .611 —11—

^ Denotes state runners-up

$$ Denotes state champion

Past Florida Dixie Senior Boys (age 14) State Champions


1975 Larsen Center

1976 Northeast Pensacola

1977 Northeast Pensacola

1978 Medulla

1979 Lynn Haven

1980 Lynn Haven

1981 Pensacola

1982 Brent

1983 Brent

1984 Lynn Haven

1985 Lynn Haven

1986 Northeast Pensacola

1987 Lynn Haven

1988 Eagle Lake

1989 Pensacola-Pace

1990 Northeast Pensacola

1991 Northeast Pensacola

1992 Calhoun County

1993 Marianna

1994 Marianna

1995 Marianna

1996 Sebring

1997 Marianna

1998 Bartow

1999 Pensacola-Bellview

2000 Bartow

2001 Sebring

2002 Panama City-Southport

2003 Sumter County

2004 Sebring

2005 Avon Park

2006 West Volusia

2007 Panama City-Southport

2008 Spring Hill

2009 West Seminole

2010 West Seminole

2011 West Seminole

2012 Winter Haven-Florida Baseball Academy

2013 Spring Hill


At a Glance

Where: City of Sebring’s Max Long Baseball Complex.

When: July 19-23.

AT STAKE: State champion advances to Aug. 2-6 12-team World Series at Bossier City, La.

2013 Spring Hill Junior Boys (age 13) All-Stars


3 Ryan Scicli OF/P

4 Henry Fernandez* C/OF

7 Hunter Berger INF/P

8 Jake Scicli OF/C

12 P.J. Moss OF

21 Jackson McLaughlin* OF/C

22 Dylan Lambert OF

23 Sam Roush* INF/P

24 Sydney Sauto INF/P

27 Kohl LaRoche INF/OF

34 Justin Fribbley* INF/P

42 Jaylon Fuzz* INF/C/P

* Denotes 2013 Ozone Majors All-Star.

Head Coach – Bill Collins

Assistant Coach – Chuck Fribbley

Assistant Coach – John Lambert

Past Hernando County Junior Boys State Results (2000-13)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO


2002 Brooksville 3 2 .600 Mike Bennett

2005 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Terry Forgach

2006 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Rob Owens

2007 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Mike Sollazzo

2009 Brooksville 1 2 .333 Darren Niethammer

2009 ^ Spring Hill 4 2 .667 Jim Keith

2010 ^ Spring Hill 3 2 .600 Vito Tambasco Sr.

2011 Brooksville 0 2 .000 Jimmy Kimbrough

2011 $$ Spring Hill 5 0 1.000 Jeff Hamilton

2012 Spring Hill 1 2 .333 Shawn Laferty

2013 Spring Hill 2 2 .500 Ryan Lotito

TOTALS 25 20 .556 —11—

^ Denotes state runners-up

$$ Denotes state champion

Past Florida Dixie Junior Boys (age 13) State Champions


1996 Avon Park

1997 Myrtle Grove

1998 Brooksville

1999 Myrtle Grove

2000 Sebring

2001 Panama City-Southport

2002 Panama City-Southport

2003 Panama City-Southport

2004 Panama City-Southport

2005 Tri-City

2006 Panama City-Southport

2007 Okeechobee

2008 Poinciana

2009 West Volusia

2010 West Seminole

2011 Spring Hill

2012 Sebring

2013 West Volusia


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