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Preps

Jesuit feels prepared to step up to any challenge

JARRETT GUTHRIE/Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 22, 2013 at 06:40 AM

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TAMPA -

They look like video game stats. Maybe more accurately, video-game-set-on-beginner-level stats.

A look at Jesuit’s season offensive numbers shows six players with at least 80 at-bats sporting .400-plus batting averages.

“The numbers don’t lie, and we don’t give cheap hits away,” Jesuit coach Richie Warren said. “I think what that says about our team is, 1 through 9 we can hit. We’re never in a situation where we are looking at our lineup card and saying, ‘OK, well we have to get to this hitter.’ “

“There is never any reason to panic with these guys.”

This season’s Tigers (27-2) find themselves in a familiar spot heading into tonight’s Class 5A state semifinal at Fort Myers’ JetBlue Park against Ponte Vedra (20-11), however the game whites the Jesuit players, especially the team’s 13 seniors, will wear tonight carry a lot of expectations.

The Tigers are in the state final four for the fourth straight season, so for this class there is a desire for a championship that has so far gone unfulfilled.

“I think we all like it,” senior Adrian Chacon said. “I think it’s the reason we all wanted to come here and the expectations are what it’s all about. I love all the attention, all the recognition, everyone knowing who you are. I try to stay humble about it, but we definitely want all the things that come with those expectations.”

Chacon, a North Carolina commitment who is hitting .423 with 29 runs and 23 RBIs, says this team that learned a lot from last season when all the talk was about Lance McCullers Jr., now in the Houston Astros organization. This year, that has helped the team be able to just go about its business.

“Having that attention was a great experience, and watching the composure and humbleness Lance had was special,” Chacon said. “I think this year, we haven’t had to try and impress anyone, just get to go out there and play with the guys we’ve been playing with since we were little.”

They may be without that marquee name, but with seven Division I commitments, attention showed up quickly this season with preseason and early rankings, including national No. 1 recognition twice.

The Tigers have been paced on the mound and at the plate this season by senior North Carolina signee Spencer Trayner. He is 7-1 this season with a 1.25 ERA and 74 strikeouts and has a team-best .463 average, 30 runs and 24 RBIs.

However, Warren and the Tigers will look to senior Daniel Portales (5-0, 0.30 ERA) to get them past the Sharks tonight. The South Florida commitment looked at ease Tuesday in the training room while he and his teammates waited out a storm that threatened practice for the second straight day.

“Everyone around you is so talented,” Portales said. “You know that if you make a mistake the next person is right there to step in and pick you back up.”

Jesuit found itself deep in the season with few serious threats, but Warren’s plan had the Tigers finishing with two big tests. In its final two regular-season games, against Seminole and Venice, Jesuit was on the losing side.

Losses aren’t something a team wants, but senior Vincent Miniet said they may have been just what the team needed. Miniet pointed to the Tigers’ come-from-behind win over Auburndale in the region final as a game where they were prepared because of the challenges late in the regular season

“I think those losses are beneficial,” Miniet said. “The Seminole game was on television, and they both had playoff atmosphere and we wanted to win those games, but now we feel like we’ve been in that environment and we showed it against (Auburndale). We now know as long as there is one out left, we have to do everything to fight for the win.”

Marsonek steps down as Cambridge coach Cambridge Christian baseball coach Sam Marsonek, who in three season led the Lancers to two district titles and this season’s Class 2A state final four, stepped down Tuesday, the school announced. Marsonek is leaving Cambridge Christian to take a position as a coach and minister with the mission group SCORE International.

The school announced Tuesday night it had already found Marsonek’s replacement in Sam Blackmon. Blackmon most recently served as a coach at Division III East Texas Baptist University from 2006-12.

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