TAMPA — As the final week of baseball’s regular season approaches, there are a few district tournaments that already have taken shape.
Plant’s dominating run in Class 8A-District 7, where the Panthers outscored opponents 68-3 in a 10-0 district run, has it in the semifinals before things start. King, which went 13-1 in district play, has had the Class 6A-District 9 tournament’s top seed wrapped up for more than a month.
Jesuit is 6-0 in Class 5A-District 9 and, although the team is still regrouping after suspending nine players for the rest of the season, the Tigers have wins against the other three teams in the division since the roster changes. Tampa Prep sits in the driver’s seat in Class 3A-7 with a 7-0 record, with another meeting against Brooks-DeBartolo tonight wrapping up district play.
And then there is the quagmire of Class 7A-District 8.
Of the five teams, four — Gaither, Sickles, Steinbrenner and Wiregrass Ranch — have 5-3 district records. The tournament, which will be hosted by Sickles, is still working on its seeding.
“I’m tired of speculating or trying to figure (it) out,” Steinbrenner coach John Crumbley said via text Thursday. “So (I’m) just waiting until the powers tell me.”
Wiregrass Ranch beat Steinbrenner twice, split with Sickles and lost both meetings with Gaither. Steinbrenner split with Gaither and swept Sickles.
“You have four very even, well-coached teams,” Sickles coach Bob Pagano said. “It’s almost disappointing that just two of them are going to regionals.
“We’re all just so evenly matched.”
Berkeley Prep earns region berth
Berkeley Prep hung on for a 2-1 win against Tampa Catholic on Wednesday at Steinbrenner Field. The win moved the Buccaneers to 3-1 in district play and earned them the top seed in 4A-District 10.
In the three-team district tournament, Berkeley Prep’s opponent in the final will be the winner of the semifinal between Tampa Catholic and Sarasota Booker. The Bucs already are guaranteed a spot in the region playoffs.
“We’re the number one seed, and in a three-team district that punches your ticket to regionals,” coach Justin Houston said. “That’s everybody’s goal, to get there and play for another day.”
King’s Hernandez commits to Loyola
King senior John Hernandez has committed to Loyola University in New Orleans.
Hernandez is a utility player for the Class 6A-District 9 leaders, playing first base, catcher and designated hitter.
“He’s a very team-oriented guy and always filled in wherever we have needed him,” coach Jim Macaluso said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him with a smile on his face, always trying to help his team out.”
Loyola, which plays in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athetics, is 20-21.