Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Bob Putnam, Times staff writer

Bob Putnam, Times staff writer

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Seminole High's Logan Hofstetter after winning the National Scholastic Surfing Association Explorer Men’s East Coast title. (Courtesy of Michael Hofstetter)

A surf champ from Florida’s West Coast? Believe it

The surfers got on their boards, ready to ride the waves at New Smyrna Beach.These were not the conditions that left boards shattered or bodies battered. After all, this is the land of thigh-high surf. The peaks were well-defined but only...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Academy of the Lakes Wildcats shortstop Brooke Blankenship scoops up a groundball while playing in the Lady 'Canes Spring Classic in March. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

Brooke Blankenship, Academy at the LakesAcademy at the Lakes knew it would be difficult to manufacture runs during last week's anticipated matchup with Land O'Lakes and Gators ace Callie Turner.So the Wildcats decided to steal...
Published: 04/23/18
Sunlake finishes the regular season on top of our HomeTeam softball rankings. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Sunlake (22-1)Up next: Wednesday vs. Clearwater-Northeast winner (7A-10 semifinals)The buzz: The Seahawks beat Anclote, Gulf and Zephyrhills last week to extend their win streak to...
Published: 04/23/18
Tarpon Springs Spongers pitcher Jenna Wojnar prepares to deliver a pitch while playing in the Lady Canes Spring Classic at Eddie C. Moore Complex on March 23. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times)

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Note: Some district schedules may be impacted by inclement weather.Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
The Lakewood High Spartans, shown here taking the field before a game last season,  [Times file (2017)]

Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

ST. PETERSBURG — Former Lakewood High coach Brian Bruch started each season with the same spiel. He cautioned his players about not becoming obsessed with a professional football career, reciting statistics to emphasize the difficult the odds of...
Published: 04/20/18
Though young, Boca Ciega's Carmen Perez, an FIU commit, is a key cog on the team. (Times file)

Boca Ciega’s modest goals morph into high hopes for postseason

GULFPORT — Boca Ciega High School softball coach Robin Little started this season with an overwhelming sense of loss. Gone were eight seniors, the biggest being ace Caylie Van Auken, now at Upstate South Carolina.It was a group that...
Published: 04/18/18
East Lake's Athena Andrews has plenty of pop in her swing, and she's a huge threat to steal once she's on base. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)

East Lake keeps things loose, forges tight team bonds

East Lake softball players and coaches went on a retreat the weekend before the regular season started. They stayed in cabins at a campsite in Hudson. They went through team-bonding exercises, such as rock climbing. They shared stories about...
Published: 04/18/18

Academy at the Lakes steals 3-2 win over Land O’Lakes

LAND O'LAKES — Academy at the Lakes coaches noticed early on a quirk in Land O'Lakes' battery exchange."In the very first inning one of our coaches said (Gators pitcher) Callie Turner keeps putting her head down and the catcher keeps...
Published: 04/17/18
USF defensive end Mike Love (98) celebrates the sack on Tulsa quarterback Chad President this past season.  (Octavio Jones, Times)

True love trumps draft? That’s kind of the case for USF DL Mike Love

Mike Love has spent countless hours working out to sharpen his combine-taking skills. He has been timed and tested, scrutinized and measured, by scouts and general managers.The payoff could come April 28, the third and final day of the NFL...
Published: 04/17/18
Fivay baseball player Tyler Derner, our HomeTeam Hot Shot of the week.

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Tyler Derner and Dianisty Bolden

Tyler Derner, FivayDerner, a 6-foot-5 senior outfielder, is one of many players having a good offensive season for the Falcons. Statistically, he's not the best hitter on the team, although his .396 average isn't too shabby.
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18