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Baseball: CCC hires former Rays pitcher Dan Wheeler

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For the first time in nearly four decades, Clearwater Central Catholic has a new baseball coach. 

On Friday, the school announced via social media the hiring of former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Dan Wheeler to take over the program. Wheeler replaces Todd Vaughan, who stepped down three weeks ago after coaching the Marauders for 33 seasons. 

Wheeler, 43, spent 14 seasons at the major league level, including two stints (1999-2001, 2007-10) with Tampa Bay. He was drafted by the Devil Rays, where he spent three seasons before playing for the Mets (2003-04) and Astros (2004-07), where he became a premier set-up man. 

In 2007, Wheeler started his second stint with the Rays and was a member of the club’s 2008 World Series team. He finished his career with the Red Sox (2011) and Indians (2012). 

For the past two seasons, Wheeler was an assistant at CCC. He also has helped out with the Kangaroo Court/Top Tier club baseball programs. The Marauders finished 3-18 this past season.

Baseball

Bloomingdale’s Kris Wilken named 6A coach of the year

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Bloomingdale’s Kris Wilken, who guided the school’s baseball program to its first state title, was named the Class 6A coach of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. 

Wilken, who has coached the Bulls for 14 seasons, has a 221-123 overall record. He helped Bloomingdale reach the state semifinals in 2014. 

This season, everything came together at the right time. The Bulls found the wherewithal to survive a series of close, low-scoring games en route to a state title. Three of Bloomingdale’s five postseason games were decided by a run. 

The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of baseball coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week. 

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Baseball

Baseball: Durant’s Sean Hermann named 7A state player of the year

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Sean Hermann, who led Durant to the state semifinals thanks to his performance on the mound this season, was named the Class 7A player of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. 

The USF signee was efficient, going 9-0 with a .036 ERA and recording 135 strikeouts while walking just 13 batters in 78 innings. Those numbers were a big reason the Cougars reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. 

In fact, Hermann threw at least four innings in every postseason game for Durant. In the 7A state semifinals, he threw 7 ⅓ scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out nine. 

The winners in each classification were selected through voting from a statewide panel of baseball coaches and media representatives. They are now eligible to be named the overall winner in the state, which will go through another round of voting and likely be announced next week. 

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Baseball

Gulf Coast Eight baseball selections announced

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Here is the Gulf Coast Eight baseball team. The players are from two counties, Hernando and Citrus. The selections were made by the coaches.

Player of the year: P/OF Riley Fisher, Sr., Hernando

Coach of the year: Brandon DeRespiris, Nature Coast

First team

P Justin Gay, Sr., Central

P Cris Walley, So., Citrus

C Dylan Schatzel, Sr., Hernando

IF Luke Malmberg, Jr., Lecanto

IF Dylan DuPhily, Sr., Hernando

IF Jaxen Gates, So., Nature Coast

IF Zeth Rodriguez, Sr., Nature Coast

OF Quinn Lenamon, So., Springstead

OF Levi Haines, Sr., Weeki Wachee

OF Justin Montanez, Sr., Nature Coast

UTIL Nick Talpa, Sr., Hernando

UTIL Collin Nelson, Sr., Nature Coast

Honorable mention

Central: Brandon Leininger, Taylor Mulock; Citrus: Blake Clark, Tim Flippen; Crystal River: Riley Houle, Jeff Jones; Hernando: Jordan Laing, Anthony Talpa; Lecanto: Evan Silverthorn, Nick Sloane; Nature Coast: Brian Erb, Tyler Renew; Springstead: Owen Andress, Marcus Opolski-Roe; Weeki Wachee: Blake Byrne, Anthony Scarangella. 

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