The Tampa Bay area has been a hotbed of talented high school baseball players for some time.
But when it comes to true dominant, dynasty-type programs, it has seen quite a drought. In fact, the last program to gain that type of recognition may be the Jesuit (Tampa) teams of the late 1990s that won three state championships.
Could Alonso (Tampa) be next?
Judging by their Class 6A championship last year, recent title at the prestigious Tony Saladino Tournament and their surging play into the postseason, the Ravens could very well be on their way.
Alonso topped Plant [Henry B.] (Tampa) 6-1 to gain the Saladino crown last week.
Now 19-4, the Ravens have won back-to-back Saladino titles and three in the last four years. The Ravens used that momentum all the way to the state championship in 2009 and have this on their side for 2010: Since 2004, every Saladino winner has reached at least the state region finals.
In beating Plant, Alonso pitcher Brandon Johnson threw six strong innings. The Panthers did not help themselves with three errors and the Ravens took full advantage, scoring three runs in the second inning. Chris Louth, Thomas Dorminy and tournament MVP Jose Fernandez all had run-scoring hits for the Ravens.
Alonso opens district tournament play April 26 as the top seed. Rival Plant is hosting the event.
Best of the Bay area
Dunedin (Fla.) took down one of the best baseball teams in the country this past week. Dunedin (20-3) pulled off a relatively easy 10-2 victory against USA Today No. 1-ranked Sarasota. The loss was the first of the year for Sarasota, which was coming off a big win against Jesuit (Tampa).
Kyle Kunnen, Alex Libby, Chase Smith and Casey Turgeon each had two hits in the game, and Dunedin pitcher Mike Clarkson allowed five hits while picking up the win.
Jesuit, meanwhile, snapped back from the loss to Sarasota, which ended the Tigers’ 20-game winning streak, by defeating Tampa Catholic 6-1. Jesuit pitcher Daniel Gibson (9-0) threw a five-hitter and struck out six.
Countryside (Clearwater) pitchers Erika Queen and Davionna Disalvatore combined to no-hit Lakewood (St. Petersburg) 11-0 last week. Queen and DiSalvatore teamed up to record 15 outs in the mercy-rule game.
And two Tampa Bay area players performed well at the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star Game in Ocala.
Tampa Prep’s Jay Bowie scored 18 points for the White team while Wharton (Tampa) guard Damian Dixon scored 16 points for the Blue squad that posted a 96-92 victory.
Brooksville Nature Coast’s Jajuan Story is becoming the hot player during this offseason.
Story, who plays wide receiver, defensive back and quarterback for the Sharks, recently ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the Elite Scouting Service combine in Tampa. He also impressed at the Nike Combine in Gainesville.
A 6-foot-4, 185-pound athlete, Story already has offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida and Florida International.
Among the Bay area athletes to make college choices, Plant (Tampa) volleyball libero Daorai Katie has signed with James Madison University. Daorai was a part of four state title-winning teams at Plant.
Pasco (Dade City) wide receiver Chaise Dunn will play at the Merchant Marine Academy while teammates Allen Wells (OL) and Jake Foster (LB) will play at Wisconsin Lutheran College. … And Wiregrass Ranch (Wesley Chapel)'s Solomon Muhammad will play at Dean College, a junior college in Massachusetts.
Other Bay area happenings
Softball district tournaments and track and field district meets begin this week. Baseball begins its postseason next week with districts. Meanwhile, tennis has moved into the regional round.