Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Area Teams Advance with Little Hype

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Area Teams Advance with Little Hype

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

Regardless of how Jacksonville's representatives fare this week at the state baseball tournament, the presence of three area teams in Tampa at three classifications speaks volumes about baseball on the First Coast.

A number of the other 21 teams in the state tournament come to Tampa with hotshot draft prospects, national-poll rankings and plenty of scout appeal. Providence, Bishop Kenny and Bolles come with no such accolades. For them, the tournament is about what they take home -- they hope state a championship -- and not what they arrive with. The Stallions fell 4-1 yesterday in a Class A semifinal, but led after four innings and trailed by just a run after six.

"We didn't really have a superstar that everyone had an eye on this season," BK coach Bob West said. "But we've got a lot of leadership [among seniors.] About a third of the way through the season, [assistant coach] Tommy Edwards told me he thought this was a special team, just by how resilient they were, and here they are."

Northeast Florida should always have some representation. The 40-plus high schools in the area produce close to 20 regional tournament qualifiers, any of which can reach Tampa with three consecutive playoff wins. This year was unusual, however, because overall talent in the area was down: Various coaches remarked this season that top-shelf individual talent was scarce. Yet three teams entered final-four play yesterday with a state title in reach; last season Arlington Country Day was the only team to make the tourney.

"There isn't always going to be great talent every year, but that doesn't mean there won't be some really good teams," Providence coach Billy Bell said.

PAXON JOB REMAINS VACANT -- The search for a football coach at Paxon continues. Eagles athletic director Nan Harrington said the search has been re-opened, but that candidates involved in the first round of interviews have not been eliminated.

Two assistant coaches are handling the team during spring practice, Harrington said. Paxon has the last remaining head coaching vacancy among Northeast Florida high schools this offseason. …

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