Top 10 sports stories for 2004
|Island Family Physicians
Front, left to right, Kelly Guerin, Ally Titsworth, Emma Barlow, Savannah Schield. Standing, left to right, Hailey Dearlove, Nicole Botero, Ashley Waring, Molly McDonough, Kristi Wickersham and Paige Morris. Not pictured: Martine Miller. Coaches: Ron McDonough, Julie Dearlove, Steve Titsworth
Click on image to enlarge
The 2004 year in sports had its usual highs and lows, bringing agony and defeat alongside euphoria and joy as is usually the case with sports. Deciding which sporting events are bigger or better than one or the other is a difficult task to say the least, especially when my "esteemed" colleague, Paul Roat, hogs the back issues of The Islander for researching the past year in sports.
After overcoming what I'll affectionately call the "Roat Effect," I reviewed my notes and pictures taken throughout the year and compiled my Top 10. In an effort to be fair, I combined some events along common themes, while others will get only a mention in this opening statement.
Once again the O'Connor Bowling Challenge and the Anna Maria Island Oyster Bar golf tournament were must-attend affairs and both resulted in generous donations to the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
The year also saw the closing down of two nearby golf courses when Palma Sola and Village Green shut their doors in the interest of residential development.
Professional sports also graced T
he Islander sports pages with the Tampa Bay Lightning's improbable run to the Stanley Cup title and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 12-game winning streak that put them two games over .500 midway through the season.
For the most part though, this weekly column's focus is on youth sports. I want to thank all the coaches, parents and kids who read my stories each week and I want to thank Anna Maria Island Community Center athletic director Andy Jonatzke for all of his efforts in providing timely information for my column.
Last but not least, I want to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year and to let them know that I'm looking forward to another great year of sports in 2005.
No. 1. Playoff win adds exclamation point to softball season
Island Family Physicians won 6-3 over the Bradenton Elks May 22, culminating a fantastic softball season for the 10-under Island girls. They finished the regular season on top of the 10-under division with a 15-2 record before sweeping two playoff games to claim the postseason title.
The playoffs were a continuation of the accomplishments that IFP had during the regular season. They won games because they had a timely offense and played tough defense behind a trio of talented pitchers: Ally Titsworth, Emma Barlow and Hailey Dearlove. It made Coach Julie Dearlove's job much easier.
Offensively, IFP was led by Titsworth and Barlow, who led the team in hits while compiling a hefty .780 on-base percentage. Nicole Botero, Kelly Guerin and Dearlove followed with a .630 on-base percentage, while Kristi Wickersham, Molly McDonough, Paige Morris and Savannah Schield each had key hits during their playoff run.
IFP received strong defensive play from a variety of players who got a chance to play more than one position in the field. Martine Miller played first base along with Titsworth, who played first, third or outfield when she wasn't pitching, while Guerin, Ashley Waring, Wickersham, Schield and Dearlove logged time at second base and the outfield.
Botero, Guerin and Morris handled the hot corner, while Barlow was the primary shortstop. Molly McDonough was the catcher in all 19 games and made several outstanding plays at home during key moments in a couple of close games.
No. 2. Islanders make mark in prep sports
Islanders who excelled in prep sports graced The Islander's sports pages numerous times throughout 2004. It's always nice to see products of our local youth leagues excel at the high school and or middle school level.
Kern leads Her-icanes to playoffs
Kim Kern's penalty kick ended over 100 minutes of soccer during the class 5A District 11 semifinal game on Jan. 28 in Venice.
Kern - granddaughter of Island residents Ellie and Tom Kern - was the last player to kick in the penalty kick shootout that decided Wednesday's game between Punta Gorda and Manatee after the two teams battled to a scoreless tie through regulation time and two overtimes.
Her clutch kick advanced the Manatee Her-icanes to the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
Basketball season ends for three Island girls
The Manatee Hurricanes girls' basketball season came to an end on Feb. 12 thanks to a 67-53 loss to Venice in the 5A District 11 semifinals. So ends another season of basketball for the Manatee High girls, which include Islanders Brittany Parker, Jessica Cramer and Ryanne Carden. For Parker, a senior and three-year starter, the loss ended a solid career that saw her average nine points and seven rebounds per game during her tenure on the varsity team.
Sophomores Carden and Cramer were in their first season on the varsity team and still have a couple of seasons to look forward to.
Island soccer star makes his mark in high school, overseas
Longtime Island resident Sean Pittman experienced a stellar freshman year on the Manatee High boy's varsity soccer team. Sean was a starter on the team for much of the season, which went a little bit further then anyone imagined.
Sean followd up his great high school experience when he joined a national tour team in Sweden for the Gothia Cup in July. The Gothia Cup, which is the World Youth Cup, was a fantastic learning experience that will surely help him improve as a player. Sean was named team MVP for his stellar play in Sweden.
Little League produces two varsity Hurricanes
The Manatee Hurricanes varsity baseball team can thank the Anna Maria Island Little League for two contributors to its 2004 season. Taylor Manning and current Islander Chris Nelson both got their start playing baseball at Benji Scanio Field in Anna Maria and both are being counted on to fill specific roles for the Hurricanes.
Islanders make track mark
A few Island residents represented their school and the Island extremely well in the Manasota Elks middle school track event April 17 at Southeast High School in Bradenton.
Heather Dearlove won the eighth-grade girls' 1,600-meter run with an impressive 7:20.34, while brother Justin finished in second place in the sixth-grade boys' 1,600-meter run with a time of 6:17. Seventh-grader Lance Burger placed in three events. He took third in the boys' 100-meter dash with a time of 14.17. He also finished in third place in the boys' 200-meter dash with a time of 28.16 seconds and wrapped up his day with a third-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 14-9 1/2.
Eighth-grader Spencer Carper took second place in the boys' 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:40.86, while Ben Murphy ran a 6:09.38, which was good for third in the seventh-grade boys' 1,600-meter run. Stephen Thomas finished in fourth place in the sixth-grade boys' 400-meter dash with a time of 1:11.90, a mere seven-tenths of a second from a second-place finish.
Island soccer represented on Her-icanes
Four Island girls made the girl's soccer teams at Manatee High for the 2004-05 season. Sophomore defender Gracie Sawyer is in her second season as a member of the junior varsity squad, which is coached by Island resident Jeff Nelson. Freshmen Tierney Green and Amber Wright are also members of the junior varsity team. Green is starting at forward and currently leads her team in scoring with three goals, while the speedy Wright is firmly entrenched as the starter at right defender.
Junior midfielder/defender Wetherly Wigelsworth, who recently moved here from Indiana, is in her first season with the varsity Her-icanes.
No. 3. Skimboard contest
The third annual EZ Skimmers back-to-school skimboarding contest took place Aug. 21 at the Beach House Restaurant. The number of contestants was less than half of the expected 100 or so skimmers, due in part to Hurricane Charley.
The skimmers that did participate put on another outstanding show for the 100 or so spectators, despite less than stellar conditions for top-notch skimming. The tide was out and waves were virtually non-existent for most of the day, but, as usual, the cream rose to the top and after several challenging heats, champions were crowned in eight divisions.
No. 4. Lady Spartans take title
The Lady Spartans defeated the Lady Wildcats 26-24 May 24 to win the girls' 8-9-10 championship at G.T. Bray Park in Bradenton. The Spartans were pretty much an all-island team with Emma Fridenberg the lone Bradenton team member. Islanders on the team were Ally Titsworth, Kelly Guerin, Emma Barlow, Hailey Dearlove, Molly McDonough, Ashley Waring and Martine Miller.
The Lady Spartans dominated through the entire regular season and playoffs with a perfect 10-0 record, outscoring their opponents by a 277-105 margin.
No. 5. Island juniors excel
The Islander Junior League baseball team for players age 13-15 played two games in early April and came away with 10-run, mercy-rule victories in both games. On April 2, they defeated Beef O'Brady's 16-6 in six innings. They followed that up with a five-inning 15-4 win over Charles Roy Roofing at Birdie Tebbetts Field in Holmes Beach to improve their record to 4-3 on the season.
Unfortunately, the team struggled to field a full team, forcing them to forfeit the remaining games in the second half of the season. This prompted three players - Shane and Tanner Pelkey and Pat Cole - to go across the bridge and play for Manatee National team and all of them made all-stars.
Shane Pelkey ended up as the leading hitter in the junior league with a batting average above .650 and Tanner Pelkey and Cole both had outstanding seasons. Cole became the team's primary catcher while also taking a regular turn on the mound and Tanner was a starter in right field and a solid hitter.
Shane Pelkey, who had never hit a home run at any level of baseball, culminated a good year when he hit solo home runs in his first at-bat in three consecutive games.
No. 6. Island meets Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Eleven-year-old Islander Molly Slicker got up close and personal with several members of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when she got to serve as honorary bat girl during the July 25 game against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Molly got to meet and greet the majority of Rays' players prior to the game thanks to a winning bid by grandparents Ellen and Ross at the Center's "Affair to Remember" fundraiser.
No. 7. Excitement ends basketball season
Feb. 21 was a day filled with exciting basketball games from start to finish at the Center.
Division III was the only age group where the regular-season seedings held true-to-form with the Bistros completing an undefeated season with a methodical 22-11 victory over second-seeded Harry's Continental Kitchens. Division II saw fourth-seeded Banks Engineering take the championship with a one-point victory over second-seeded STGC, while number-three seed Sign of the Mermaid captured the Division I title thanks to a one-point upset win over top-seed S&S Industries.
Those were minor upsets compared to what happened in the Premier League, where the Beach House completed a worst-to-first run by defeating top-seed Oyster Bar in the semifinals before edging second-seed ReMax for the title.
No. 8. Soccer season
The last regular season games and the always entertaining all-star games were played during the week of Nov. 2-5, ending another season of youth soccer on Anna Maria Island. It was a good season with strong performances from several individuals.
Ben Valdivieso and Joey Hutchinson lit up the scoreboards in Division I and II, finishing with 57 and 37 goals respectively.
There were no surprise endings at the top of the standings. As expected, Island Animal Clinic, Gateway Solutions and West Coast Air Conditioning captured first place in each of their respective divisions. The only changes in the standings saw two teams - LaPensee Plumbing and Air & Energy - move from third to second place in Divisions I and II.
No. 9. Longboat youngster makes mark in tennis
Longboat Key native Anthea Rokop made a strong statement in 2004 that she's an up-and-comer in USTA tennis rankings. She captured the girls' 10-and-under St. Petersburg rookie tennis tournament in March and later won or had strong showings at two tournaments.
Rokop, a second-grader at Anna Maria Elementary, trains at the Cedars Tennis Club and debuted in February's USTA Florida rankings at number 104 out of 200 eligible girls in her division and improved to 60th in the state.
No. 10. Duncan bounces back to win Little League tourney
Duncan bounced back from a 13-12 loss to Island Lumber on May 19 with a 10-8 victory on May 21 to capture the season-ending, double-elimination tournament title.
Kyle Bellinger started the sixth-inning rally with a single to left field. Cory Wash walked in front of Max Huber, who drove a single to right center that scored Bellinger and advanced Wash to third. Wash then stole home to score the final run of the game.
Wash nailed down the victory with an impressive sixth inning, but not without some jitters. He induced a ground-out by Troy Kozewski for the first out before surrendering a double to Broderick West. West moved to third on a passed ball, but Wash got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters to give Duncan the championship.