Monday, June 28, 2010

Dorsey begins CFL career as backup

Former Lakewood Ranch High assistant coach and University of Miami standout quarterback Ken Dorsey will begin his first Canadian Football League season as a backup with the Toronto Argonauts.

Dorsey, who signed as a free agent with Toronto last month, goes into this week’s regular season opener as the number two signal caller behind former Miami Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon.

Dorsey, who still owns mostly all of the University of Miami passing records, hopes he can win the starting job after he makes up for his late start and gets to know the Argonauts offense.

Lemon’s claim to fame was quarterbacking the Dolphins to their only victory during the 2007. He signed with the Argonauts last March after spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 29-year-old Dorsey was a seventh round pick in the 2003 NFL draft BY San Francisco and played two seasons for the 49ers before being traded to Cleveland. He was released by the Browns after the 2008 season.

His best season came in 2004 when he threw for six TDs with nine interceptions and completed 123 of 226 passes for 1,231 yards. For his NFL career, Dorsey threw for 2.082 yards with eight TD passes and 18 interceptions.

The 6-4, 220 pounder had a great career at Miami leading the Hurricanes to the 2001 national title and took them to the 2002 BCS National Championship game where they lost to Ohio State in overtime.

He compiled a 38-2 record as a starter while setting career records for total offense, passing yards, touchdowns and victories. He also threw 193 consecutive passes without an interception.

Milledge finally gets homer

And on the 55th game of the 2010 season on his 220th at bat, Lastings Milledge finally hit his first homer.

Before naysayers start screaming it’s about time, let’s remember the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t have many things to feel good about these days and Milledge brings a smidgen of hope.

The Pirates head into the week with six straight losses, including 17 straight on the road with only two wins in their last 20 games.

In their 3-2 loss to Oakland on Sunday, the Pirates looked like the Keystone Cops with four errors and Milledge did go to 2 for 4 with his homer to raise his batting average to .279.

Milledge is hitting .313 against lefties and .265 against right handers. The best part is that with runners in scoring position, the Lakewood Ranch High graduate is hitting .471 against lefties and .353 against right handers.

Former USF cornerback inks deal

Former USF ornerback Jerome Murphy signed a contract with the St. Louis Rams over the weekend to become the highest draft choice in the 2010 class to ink a deal.

Selected in the third round, Murphy was the 65th overall pick in the draft. A two year starter, who replaced heralded first round pick Mike Jenkins, Murphy signed for a reported $2.72 million with a signing bonus of more than $937,000.

Also signing with the Rams was another former Bull, defensive end George Selvie, who at one time was a projected to be a first round pick after his sophomore season when he earned first team All-American honors and was Big East Conference Defensive Player of The Year.

Selvie slipped to the seventh round this year and admitted he was despondent, but hopes to prove all those doubters wrong. If he had left college after his junior year, the 6-4, 255 pounder would’ve gone a lot higher and possibly been a late first round pick. But Selvie says he can’t change to past and doesn’t question his decision to stay in college.

Washington optimistic about health

Entering his sixth season as an NFL cornerback, Fabian Washington says has recovered from off season surgery and expects to be ready when his NFL training camp with the Baltimore Ravens opens in late July.

The former Bayshore High standout had surgeries to repair a bulging disc in his neck and an ACL that he tore in his left knee last November 22nd making a tackle against the Indianapolis Colts.

“The disc is fine and the knee is about eighty percent (recovered), Washington says. “I am hoping to have my best season yet. I am not totally healthy, but I am close to it. Nobody is one-hundred healthy in the NFL and you just got to know how to fight through it. But everything is looking great.”

Washington, who turned 27 earlier this month, played in 10 games last season, which was the least since he joined the league in 2005 as the 23d pick in the draft by the Oakland Raiders.

The Ravens recently signed two cornerbacks in 13 year veteran Walt Harris, who will turn 36 before next season and former Dallas Cowboy Ken Hamlin.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said recently that Washington and his other projected starting cornerback, Lardarius Webb, might not be at full strength when the season starts but that he expects their strength to increase as the season goes on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Slowik gets top softball honor

Lakewood Ranch High shortstop Rachel Slowik was named Defensive Player of The Year while joining teammate Corey Hanewich as a first team selections on the Miracle Sports Class 4A All-State team.

Braden River freshman pitcher Courtney Mirabella was a second team selection while Lakewood Ranch junior pitcher Brittany Kilduff was named to the third team. Miracle Sports is a group of 15 current and former high school and college softball coaches.

The FIU bound Slowik led the Lady Mustangs with a .429 batting average and tied for the team lead with 36 RBIs. Hanewich, who has signed with national power Stanford, batted over .400 every season and finished her career with a .442 average.

Mirabella led the Pirates with a 9-3 record and was the only Manatee County player to hit the century mark with 100 Ks in 84 innings and a 1.24 ERA. Kilduff led Lakewoood Ranch with a 1.85 ERA and struck out 96 in 102 innings with six shutouts and a 12-3 record.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dean headed for SCF

Former Lakewood Ranch High baseball standout Cas Dean is coming home.

The pitcher/shortstop spent his first year at Palm Beach Atlantic College. He played fall ball, but was academically ineligible during the fall and decided to come and attend State College of Florida.

Dean said SCF head coach Tim Hill has offered him an opportunity to walk on and that is all he was seeking. He sees himself more as pitcher than shortstop for the Manatees.

“At Lakewood Ranch, I was mainly a pitcher, but played outfield a lot during my senior year (2009) because we were down an outfielder,” Dean said.
Dean will be playing in the IMG Academies Wooden Bat League this summer for the second time where he expects to pitch and play shortstop.

“You pitch differently against guys with wooden bats and throw a lot more inside,” Dean said. “I like hitting more with wooden bats because I don’t try to hit as many homers and wind up getting a lot more line drives. I also like wooden bats because you can actually feel the ball coming off the bat.”

USF has lowest ticket price

The USF football team has the lowest season ticket prices among all the BCS Conference schools.

According to a study done by Rivals.Com, the Bulls are offering a season ticket for $75, which is lower than any other BCS football program and lower than non BCS rival UCF, whose cheapest season ticket is $99.

The next lowest season ticket price offered by a BCS school is Illinois, which is offering one for $77. On the other end, the school with the highest least expensive season ticket is Ohio State, which is offering one for $607.

The lowest of the cheapest is at Kent State and Western Kentucky, where former Manatee High great Willie Taggart is the new head coach. His Hilltoppers have a season ticket available for $30.

The least expensive season ticket offered by the State’s Big Three according to Rivals.Com are: Florida ($224), FSU ($231) and Miami ($119).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ohlman moves to Appalachian League

Local products Michael Ohlman and J.R. Murphy are learning the jump to professional baseball is not easy, but both continue to show promise.

The two catchers started the 2010 season in the Low Class A South Atlantic League, but Ohlman has since moved to the Rookie Appalachian League and is with the Bluefield Orioles in West Virginia.

Murphy, who played his high school ball at IMG Academies, is with the Yankees affiliate, the Charleston (WVa) RiverDogs. Ohlman, a Lakewood Ranch High grad, started with Delmarva in the Baltimore Orioles chain.

Murphy, who was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, is hitting .242. The 6-0, 190 pounder had a big game recently when he banged out four hits against Augusta and in his last four starts heading into Sunday went 7 for 18 with a double in three RBIs.

Ohlman got off to a slow start and hit .174 with Delmarva. But his bat was coming alive in his final 10 games with that club when he went 10 for 35 (.286 BA) with a homer, seven RBIs and a .390 on base percentage.

Ohlman will resume playing on Tuesday when the Appalachian League begins its season. The righty/righty has struggled against right handers hitting only .148 against them this year. The Appalachian League season runs through August.

The 6-4, 205 pound Ohlman was drafted in the 11th round last year, but signed for $995,000,way above what someone gets in that spot. Murphy signed for a reported $1.25 million.

Both had incredible stats in high school. Murphy batted .627 with 11 homers for the IMG Pendleton School team while Ohlman hit .550 with three homers, 28 RBIs and an astonishing 23 stolen bases.

Does USF/Big East need to change focus?

Are USF and the Big East Conference looking in the wrong direction?

The Bulls and the rest of the seven playing football teams in the league would love to have an eighth team that would at least ease the schedule with four home and four away games each season.

The Big East is also concerned that it might be the next conference raided and is looking at possible new football playing members. The ones most talked about are UCF and Memphis with East Carolina a long shot.

But how about Houston and TCU?

Geography doesn’t matter anymore when it comes to the name of a conference. Houston and TCU in the Big East make more sense than Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference. And Houston is closer to USF than four of its Big East opponents (Rutgers, Connecticut, Syracuse and Pittsburgh).

Houston and TCU are in non-BCS conferences and upset that they were recently snubbed by the Big 12, which is down to 10 teams.

These are two quality football programs. In fact Houston defeated Oklahoma State and Texas Tech from the Big 12 last year. But maybe that shows the Big 12 wasn’t that good because Houston lost to UCF and East Carolina. TCU finished 12-1 and was sixth in the final rankings.

It seems those are two teams that would certainly enhance the Big East’s chances of remaining a BCS conference if Rutgers and Pittsburgh bolt.

Braden River players moving on with careers

The Braden River High baseball program is young, but that hasn’t stopped the Pirates from sending quite a few players on to the next level.

At least four Pirates from this past season’s squad plan to play college ball next season and there could be a fifth with Stephen Fischer still exploring his options.

Pirates second baseman William Paterson recently finalized plans to play for Webber International University in Babson Park, according to Braden River head coach Ryan Hilton. Webber is an NAIA school that plays in the Sun Conference and finished last season with a 24-31 overall record.

“I think William will do well. He is a real hard worker and I believe he will adapt quickly because of his determination,” Hilton said.

Paterson started two years for the Pirates. Last season, he finished with a .346 batting average and .460 on-base percentage. He sparkled in the field showing an ability to cover a lot of ground and make the double play.

Other graduated seniors from the 2010 class who have finalized their college plans, include catcher Austin Platt, who is going to play at Florida State College in Jacksonville and Joey Meador, who plans to walk on at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville.

Pirates ace pitcher Marc Monroe committed to Indian River Community College in Fort Pearce before the season started. The hard throwing lefty is a highly touted prospect who figures to do well at the next level.

Perfect timing for Milledge

The timing couldn’t have been better for our own Lastings Milledge.

With his team mired in a 12 game losing streak and the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield getting a little crowded with the recent call up Jose Tabata, Milledge needed to do something to assure his spot in the Pirates lineup.

The Lakewood Ranch product did just that Saturday when he drove in four runs and just missed hitting for the cycle with a triple, double and single in sparking the Bucs to a 6-4 victory over Cleveland.

He also boosted his season batting average to .276, which is the third highest on the team among those with at least 100 at-bats and one point behind Garrett Jones.

Milledge has raised his batting average 30 points in the last two weeks and in the last seven games has 11 hits in 20 at-bats, getting multiple hits in four of those games. He is hitting .381 in the month of June.

Perhaps the best part about Milledge is that he is hitting a torrid .408 with runners in scoring position.

The Pirates have given Milledge’s left field spot to Tabata and it was reported that he would be splitting the right field job with Ryan Church and Delwyn Young. Pittsburgh manager John Russell said he didn’t want to make Milledge a bench player.

The Palmetto native didn’t waste any time providing energy for his teammates and the crowd to soak up when he dove head first into first base in the first inning to get an infield single.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bobelis narrows college choices down

Braden River basketball standout Casey Bobelis, the Bradenton Herald's Player of The Year, is still looking at colleges.

The 6-7 swingman is considering Rochester Institute of Technology, a Division III school in Rochester and Purdue University Calumet, an NAIA Division II school in Hammond, Indiana. A third option is going to UCF and trying to make the team as a walk-on.

Bobelis wants to major in engineering so in that respect RIT is a good option.
The Tigers finished with a 14-11 record last season winning 11 of their last 12 games. Purdue Calumet finished 9-18 last season

Monday, June 7, 2010

Campbell to throw for FSU

BreeAnne Campbell has been invited to throw the shot put next year for Florida State, which has one of the best track programs in the country.

The talented Manatee High senior will be a preferred walk-on and if she can increase her distance to 45-feet would be eligible to add an athletic scholarship to the other scholarships she has been awarded, thanks a great to deal to her academic standing.

If FSU gave scholarships for courage, Campbell would be at the top of the list. She had to navigate through an unbelievable string of obstacles to reach the Class 3A State Track Meet. She threw the shot 35-11.75 at the region meet to finish fourth and her best this season was 37-8.

Last fall, Campbell underwent seven hours of open heart surgery for a rapid heartbeat, also known as Wolf Parkinson White syndrome.

Four days before her district track meet, she was in a car accident that left her hobbled with knee and back injuries, but she still managed to finish first. She qualified for states despite being in pain and discomfort.

Campbell might have to undergo more heart surgery. She is hoping it won’t be necessary, but says it won’t prevent her from competing in the shot put at FSU.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hanewich finishes strong at Wisconsin

Former Lakewood Ranch High softball star Ashley Hanewich is starting to rev it up at Wisconsin.

Hanewich recently finished her junior season for the Badgers on tear hitting .474 over her last seven games. She completed her season with .273 Big Ten Conference batting average, slugged four homers and batted .233 for her 20-31 team that was 5-13 in league play.

Always a top student, Hanewich also was named to the Big 10 All-Academic team for the second straight season. Among her season highlights were two walk-off homers. She hit a single season personal high four homers in 2010 and for her career she has six triples to rank fourth all-time at Wisconsin.

The right handed hitter topped her team against lefties with a .556 batting average and batting in the leadoff spot had a .391 batting average. Her 19 runs scored this past season more than doubled her out-put for her freshman and sophomore years.

Grothe gets deserved second chance

After one of the most difficult years of his life, former USF quarterback Matt Grothe finally had some good fortune fall into his lap when he signed a contract with the Florida Tuskers of the two year old United Football League.

Grothe was in his final season of a record setting Big East Conference career in 2009 when he tore the ACL in his knee in the third game of the season that ended his college playing days.

During his career at USF, Grothe completed 717 of 1,046 passes (68.4%) with 49 touchdown passes. Before his injury, the Lakeland native started off the ’09 season as if it was going to be his best, completing 72 percent of his passes while throwing for 512 yards and five touchdowns.

There was a lot of controversy following his injury in a game that was already decided and ended in a lopsided 59-0 win against FCS (formerly I-AA) Charleston Southern. Critics claimed he shouldn’t have been in the game and definitely should not have been running the ball with the Bulls ahead 28-0 late in the second quarter when the injury occurred.

Grothe never complained. It was not his way and he loved being a quarterback who was equally adept at running and throwing the ball. It apparently is one reason Tuskers head coach Jay Gruden is so high on him.

“Matt Grothe is a tough kid, a great leader and a winner,” Gruden said. “He led the Bulls to many huge wins over nationally ranked teams and certainly deserves a ton of credit for helping build that program into a nationally ranked power. I certainly look forward to working with him in 2010.”

As a junior, Grothe reached career highs in completions (240), yards (2,911) and touchdowns (18) and also led the Bulls in rushing with 591 yards and four touchdowns. He led the Big East in total offense with 269.4 yards per game and was named MVP of the St. Petersburg Bowl.

Grothe passed for 2,700 yards and ran for 1,250 yards – accounting for 48 touchdowns -- as a senior at Lake Gibson High School.

The Tuskers open their season Friday, September 17th at Las Vegas and the following week are at Sacramento. Their first home (in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl) is Thursday Sept 30th.

Grothe will be competing with former NFL QB Brooks Bollinger, who played with the Jets and was the UFL Player of The Year last season, throwing for a league high 1,825 yards with 16 TDs. He led the team to six straight wins without a defeat before losing in the championship game.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Selig can make it right, but will he?

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has a golden opportunity to repair his image that has been torn and tattered by numerous critics.

With one wave of the wand he can win the hearts of most fans and critics who have questioned his resolve and ability to stand up and make tough decisions.

He can also make things right for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga, who was robbed of a perfect game and moment in history on a blown call with two outs in the ninth inning against Cleveland Wednesday night.

After seeing his call on video tape, umpire Jim Joyce admitted he was wrong calling Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe at first. He hit a grounder to first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Galarraga got over to first and caught the ball before Donald stepped on the bag.

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce told reporters after the game.

However, this can be fixed and it should. We have waivers for this and waivers for that! Isn’t the 2014 Super Bowl being played in New York because of a waiver about cold weather cities playing host to the game.

Selig has the power to reverse the call, but if that responsibility is too much for him to handle he can intercede and say a waiver is needed. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do and few would argue considering the magnitude of the issue.

It doesn’t change who won the game and gives Galarraga his deserved place in history.

Bud it’s time to act! Unless you want to go down in history as the baseball commissioner who helped rob Galarraga of his perfect game.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ranch's Lindsey appears back to normal

The Lakewood Ranch High football team didn’t win its spring game against Cape Coral Island Coast, but the Mustangs had some things to feel good about.

At the top of the list is their quarterback Reggie Lindsey. It was his first live game action since breaking his jaw in a baseball game a few months ago and there was concern about that would affect his play.

Lindsey took some tough hits, didn’t shy away from contact and appeared to back to his normal self on the football field. The biggest problem for the rising senior was Island Coast defensive end Aaron Lynch, who has been offered by nearly all the top notch programs in the country, including Florida.

The 6-6, 255 pound Lynch, hounded Lindsey all night, recording three sacks for 49 yards and forced the quarterback into a fumble in his own endzone that Island Coast recovered for a touchdown.

Island Coast has one of the top defensive fronts in the state and Lakewood Ranch head coach Shawn Trent knew it would be tough to run the ball against the Gators. It put a lot of extra pressure on Lindsey to make things. He had a few nice plays, but the big thing was that he did show any ill effects from his baseball injury.

The worst news for Lakewood Ranch was that defensive back Zach Larson separated his shoulder on the first play of the game and will be in a sling for about two months. It means he will miss a lot of the summer workouts and baseball he was planning to play.

Bad luck or bad judgement for Milledge?

Is hometown hero Lastings Milledge snakebite or does he just need to make better decisions on the base paths?

It’s a question that deserves a serious look after his latest misfortune running the bases Tuesday in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory over the Cubs.

In the Pittsburgh third, Milledge slammed a double that appeared to score Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Karstens. However, the left fielder tried to stretch his hit into a triple and was thrown out at third before Karstens reached home plate, thus wiping out what seemed to be a certain run and taking away an RBI from Lastings.

Against these same Cubbies, Milledge suffered his most embarrassing moment of his big league career when he smacked what appeared to be his first career grand slam back on May 6th. We all know how that ended. The Pirates scoreboard keeper set off fireworks signaling a round tripper and Milledge was led to believe the ball went out and slowed into his homerun trot.

Unfortunately, the ball never cleared the fence and Milledge was tagged out turning what looked like one his greatest moments in Major League baseball into a disheartening two-run double.

Fortunately, the Pirates won both games and maybe his last one, stretching his double into a triple, was the one he should’ve been taken some heat because there were no fireworks set off to cloud his thinking. On the other hand, you can’t blame Milledge for being aggressive on the base paths.