Spring training games at McKechnie Field allow you to get an up close look at a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Roger Clemens.
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Anna Maria Island Little League produces two varsity Hurricanes
The Manatee High School Hurricanes varsity baseball team can thank the Anna Maria Island Little League for two contributors to its efforts in the 2004 season. Former Islander Taylor Manning and current resident Chris Nelson both got their start playing baseball at the Anna Maria Island Community Center's Benji Scanio Field in Little League and both are being counted on to fill specific roles for the Hurricanes.
Manning - the only left-hander - is one of four pitchers that will take the mound on a regular basis, according to Manatee coach Al Melnick. "Manning spots the ball well and gets people out with his split-finger pitch. Pitcher will be his primary role, but if he keeps hitting the ball effectively, we're gonna have to find a spot for him in the lineup."
Nelson, who recently suffered a strained Achilles tendon, is being counted on to fill a utility role. "He'll play right field, left field and some infield. Wherever he's needed, Chris will play," stated Melnick. He went on to say that before the injury, Nelson had done a good job at the plate, working the count and laying down bunts when the Hurricanes need to manufacture runs.
The Hurricanes varsity team recently dropped a frustrating 7-4 decision to the Port Charlotte Pirates March 5 at G.T. Bray field in Bradenton. The Canes uncharacteristically committed a bunch of errors to waste a solid pitching performance from Eddie Anderson, who pitched into the sixth inning and allowed only four hits, two walks and one earned run while striking out four.
Manatee jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when freshman Ryan Rubino blooped a single down the right-field line and later scored from third on a passed ball.
Anderson got into trouble in the third when he allowed a lead-off single to Ross, who was bunted over to second by Velez. Port Charlotte rightfielder Toledo followed with a single to plate Ross and tie the score, but that was just the start of it for the Pirates. Two throwing errors and a passed ball brought home Toledo and Kemper for a 3-1 Pirates lead.
Manatee fought back to tie the score in the bottom of the inning as Rubino reached on an error and went to third on a single by Danny Murphy. Adam Mott's grounder forced Murphy out at second, but Rubino slid home to pull to within a run. Taylor Chadsey followed with a single to move Mott to third, where he easily scored on Scott Viehman's ground out.
Two more errors, a walk and a single put three more runs across for Port Charlotte, while the Hurricanes managed one run in the bottom of the seventh in the 7-4 loss.
Chadsey led the Hurricane offense, going 2-for-4 including an RBI double, while Rubino and Mott both went 1-for-4 with two runs scored. Manning walked and singled while Tyler Jensen and Alan Conley each added singles in the loss.
Calling Island athletes!
Let us know when and where and what sports you're playing. We'd like to see your exploits on the field or in any sport, team or individual, in The Islander. Drop a schedule off at the Islander office along with the names of Islanders that are participating. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any info and photos.
All are welcome.
More baseball action
The Anna Maria Island Little League is under way with games being played almost every night of the week in addition to games on Saturday mornings, but they're not the only game in town.
The professionals are back at it, too, and if you've never ventured to McKechnie Field on Ninth Street West in Bradenton, then you don't know what you're missing.
For starters, McKechnie is just a beautiful place to watch a baseball game and it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to get a great seat. For $11, you can be close enough to the field to see your favorite pro ball player up close and personal.
Secondly, spring training baseball is nothing like the other professional sport preseasons. Spring training is laid back and the players are generally pretty friendly to fans.
Throw in the fact that the weather is beautiful during spring training and you've got yourself a built-in excuse to blow off one responsibility or another for an afternoon. Get on out to McKechnie. You'll find me in the box seats near third base.
Region C action starts for Miller, Magic mates
The U11 Manatee Magic girls' soccer team recently concluded its regular season with a 2-0 win over Valrico on Feb. 22 with both goals coming from Island resident Martine Miller. The Magic, which went through a rough patch in the middle of its Division I schedule, finished in fifth place with a 5-6-3 record.
Region C tournament play started with games being played over the Feb. 28-29 weekend and the U11 girls fared well. They opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Valrico thanks to a nice goal by Kara Rau. Saturday night saw them edge the Tampa Knights 1-0 with the only goal coming on a penalty kick by Ashley Conley. The win avenged two losses to the Knights earlier in the season.
Sunday afternoon saw the Magic defeat West Pasco 2-1 to earn a bye in the quarterfinal round. Allyssa Allen opened the scoring for the Magic, but West Pasco came back to tie the game. Martine scored the game-winner with just over eight minutes to play to help extend the season for the Magic.
Next up for Martine and her teammates is the Region C semifinals over the March 27-28 weekend. Good luck!
Island youth pilgrimage to Australia
Life-long Island resident Ryane Carden has been invited to join eight other girls from the United States on a basketball pilgrimage to Australia July 15-Aug. 5. The trip was put together by Young Life, a non-denominational Christian youth group in which Carden is active.
Currently a sophomore at Manatee High School and a member of the Lady Canes varsity basketball team, Carden received this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after first submitting a letter to Chas Fritz of Young Life.
The application consisted of the normal questions regarding position, height, and statistics, but Carden also had to respond to six or seven essay questions in order to be considered for the trip.
Carden, who carries a 4.3 grade-point average in her honors classes at MHS must have impressed the selection panel with her answers since she and Bradenton Christian's Jessica Magley were the only area girls to garner the invitation.
The trip includes stops in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Tansworth and Armadale, where Carden and her new teammates will spread the word of God while competing in basketball games against teams from Australia. In addition, the girls will also work with youngsters in mini basketball camps along the way.
Carden, an active member of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach, is in need of financial assistance to realize this fantastic opportunity. Cost of the trip is $3,500, so if anyone can find it in their hearts (and wallets) to help Ryane out, she can be reached at 778-1069.
Team Tennis: Bradenton earns victory over Laurel Oak
The Bradenton Country Club won five of six matches to defeat Laurel Oak Country Club on Saturday, March 6, at the Bradenton Country Club in Florida District 10 team tennis.
Longboat Key's Anthea Rokop defeated Andrew von Johnn 8-5, while Michael Neal defeated Hillary Butler 8-6. Sam Mire and Gabriela Grubbs both won their matches by 8-4 scores, while Kim Mannausa and Lisa Subbiondo won their singles matches 8-1. Patrick Mire eaned a hard-fought win with an 8-5 score, while Natalie Phippen dropped her match 8-5.
For more information regarding youth team tennis, call Laurie Tinnell at 761-7905 or 792-2933.
Anna Maria Island Little League baseball schedules
Major League (ages 9-12)
Date Time Teams
March 10 6:30 p.m. WMFD vs. Island Lumber
March 12 6:30 p.m. Duncan vs. Island Lumber
March 15 7 p.m. WMFD vs. Island Lumber
Minor League (ages 8-9)
March 11 6:30 p.m. Bark Realty vs. Betsy Hills
March 13 11:30 a.m. Morgan Stanley vs. Betsy Hills
March 15 5 p.m. Morgan Stanley vs. Betsy Hills
T-ball (ages 5-7)
March 13 9 a.m. Beach House vs. Air & Energy
March 13 10 a.m. Morgan Stanley vs. Harry's
March 16 5 p.m. Harry's vs. Air & Energy