Area players pick up scholarships

Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 12:23 a.m.
Football players aren't the only ones signing national letters-of-intent this time of year.
Newberry shortstop Mike Spina, who earned The Sun's 2004 co-Class 3A-6A player of the year award (sharing it with Buchholz's Bo Smith) after hitting .632 with 48 hits, 47 RBI and 25 stolen bases, signed with Florida Community College of Jacksonville on Thursday.
Spina, a sturdy 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, is expected to play one of the corner infield positions, according to FCCJ coach Chris Blaquire, who has a local alum (Santa Fe's Ryan Altenhof) on his roster.
Meanwhile at Buchholz, hard-throwing lefty Freddy Lewis has signed to play for former Florida player/assistant Tim Touma at Daytona Beach Community College. Lewis is expected to be joined at DBCC by teammate Kyle Nickel, a shortstop who hit .347 with 26 RBI as a junior and could sign within the next week or so, according to Bobcats' coach Bob Smith.
And Buchholz left-hander/outfielder Ricardo Gonzalez (7-4, 2.88 ERA as a junior) will be staying close to home, as he signed with Santa Fe Community College on Wednesday.
"These are good kids not only on the field, but off of it," Smith said. "We're hoping them signing early will help them not have to worry about it any more so they can focus on their senior seasons.
"We're proud of each of them."
  • FHSAA HAPPENINGS: The Florida High School Athletic Association announced this week that the state track and field championships will return to Coral Springs High School for two years beginning this spring.
    The event has taken place at Percy Beard Track the last two years and was in Coral Springs in 2001 and 2002. It will be held April 29-30 and May 6-7 in 2005.
    Also, the flag football state tournament will again be held at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton May 6-7.
    The FHSAA board of directors will meet Sunday and Monday with revisions to the sports calendar and the reclassification of member schools participating in team (other than football) and individual sports are among the items on the agenda.
  • HEAVY LIFTERS: Four local girls weightlifters are clean and jerking the competition.
    Gainesville junior Sharika Johnson is 7-0 on the season in the unlimited weight class. Her 240 bench and 170 clean and jerk total is an area-best total of 410.
    Also in the unlimited class is Keystone Heights' Kasey Fagan, who set a school and Keystone Invitational record Jan. 15 with a 215-pound bench press. She and Johnson could go lift-to-lift for the state title on Feb. 12 at DeLand High School.
    Sophomore Hurricane Erica Cook is 7-0 at 101 pounds, benching 110 and clean and jerking for a 225 total, also tops in the area.
    Santa Fe senior Bekah Babston is 8-0 at 154, with her area-best 375 total coming off a 205 bench and 170 clean and jerk.
    Sectionals are scheduled to take place this weekend.
  • PINFALLS: The city wrestling meet is scheduled for today at 7 p.m. at Eastside High School.
    Weigh-ins are set for 5:30, and the junior varsity competition will begin at 6:30.
    Expect Gainesville, a favorite to win its region, to take the meet. But that's probably not what matters most, as just having wrestling at Eastside and Buchholz shows this is a sport that is growing in the area.
  • TIDBITS: Palatka's Reno Fells and Union County's Ryan Southwell are scheduled to play for Team USA in the Global Junior Championships next week as part of Super Bowl festivities in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Bolles' coach Corky Rogers will lead the team against squads from France, Japan, Canada and Mexico. Gator linebacker commitment Ryan Stamper (Jacksonville First Coast) was scheduled to play, but pulled out within the last couple of weeks. ... Former Buchholz lefty Andrew Miller, now a sophomore at North Carolina, was named the Cape Cod League's top prospect recently. He also was named preseason second team All-America by Baseball America.
    John Patton is The Sun's high school sports editor. You can reach him by calling 374-5074 or by e-mail at
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