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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

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.

Phone: (727) 580-4395

Email: bputnam@tampabay.com

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  1. Celebration guaranteed for state softball champion Land O'Lakes

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — For nearly an hour on an adjacent field, Land O'Lakes softball players danced, shouted and hugged after defeating Plantation American Heritage 3-1 in the Class 6A state championship game at Historic Dodgertown.

    It was the first fastpitch title for the Gators and the first for a Pasco County program since Ridgewood won in 1992.

    The excitement also had a lot to do with who Land O'Lakes beat. American Heritage is one of the premier programs in the state. The Patriots were making their fourth straight championship game appearance and were aiming for their eighth title overall....

    Land O’Lakes softball players line up and cheer during the Class 6A championship awards ceremony. The Gators knocked off defending champ and playoff nemesis Plantation American Heritage.
  2. Canterbury's latest softball title a gift for coach Jody Moore

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH

    Jody Moore turned 40 years old last week. The Canterbury School of Florida coach knew just what she wanted for a birthday present: another state softball title.

    The Crusaders delivered, beating two-time defending champion Aucilla Christian 2-1 in nine innings in the Class 2A championship game at Historic Dodgertown. The title was Canterbury's fourth overall, which set a bay area record....

    Senior Taylor Bump hits the winning walk-off single in the ninth inning of the title game. Final score: Canterbury 2, Aucilla Christian 1. Bump, a Michigan signee, was clutch at the plate all season for Canterbury, and her 16 home runs led the state.
  3. State softball: Down-to-the-wire heartbreak for Palm Harbor University

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — For the past two seasons, Winter Garden West Orange's Lauren Mathis has established herself as a fearless competitor who thrives on the pressure of May softball by delivering pinpoint pitches in critical moments.

    The Georgia signee led the Warriors (28-3) to a state title last season with a four-hit, 15-strikeout performance against Alonso in the championship game.

    Her power and precision were the biggest things Palm Harbor University (30-3) had to worry about in Saturday's Class 9A title game at Historic Dodgertown....

    West Orange outfielder Lexie Blair (6) cheers with infielder Morgan Arcia (25) catcher Maggie Wheless (13) after scoring at the top of the sixth during the Class 9A softball title game between Palm Harbor and West Orange at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Final score: West Orange 1, Palm Harbor 0.
  4. State softball final: Land O'Lakes takes down powerhouse Plantation American Heritage for title

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — It was clear the ball didn't have enough to get past the infield, and the crowd, nearly 100 strong, began to cheer in disbelief. Many fans were already on their feet. Others rose to join them.

    As pitcher Callie Turner scooped up the ball and threw to first, the Land O'Lakes players in the dugout edged onto the field, squeezing each other's arms.

    First baseman Shelby Westbrook closed her glove; the ball disappeared, the crowd erupted....

    The Land O' Lakes softball team clap during the awards ceremony after the Class 6A softball title game between Land O' Lakes and American Heritage at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Final score: Land O' Lakes 3, American Heritage, 1.
  5. HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for May 13-19

    Blog

    Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, May 13 through Friday, May 19. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

    Female nominees

    Taylor Bump, softball, Canterbury: The Michigan signee scored the tying run and had the game-winning hit in a 2-1 victory over two-time defending champion Aucilla Christian in the Class 2A state title game....

  6. State softball: Seniors come through for Palm Harbor University

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — On the three-hour trip to Historic Dodgertown, Palm Harbor University's players watched a 15-minute video compilation of former Hurricane standouts who offered their congratulations.

    This year's team is full of sophomores who were just out of diapers when PHU last won a state title in 2005.

    Lost in this influx of youth was a group of seniors — Jada Radecki, Taylor Scott, Bailey Wilson — who helped keep the Hurricanes double their win total from last season and become state title contenders....

    Palm Harbor outfielder Jada Radecki (77) snags a pop fly during the Class 9A softball semi-final game between Palm Harbor and Jupiter at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Friday, May 19, 2017. Final score: Palm Harbor 1, Jupiter, 0.
  7. State softball: Spotlight leaves Plant City shaky in loss to Palm Beach Wellington

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — Plant City's softball team was treated like royalty over the past week.

    News traveled fast about their state semifinal appearance. It was a big deal, considering the softball program was the first team from the school to advance to a final four since the boys basketball team won state in 1982.

    Alumni, as well as television crews, showed up at practices.

    The euphoria around town had much to do with how the Raiders got here. A week ago, they beat nationally-ranked Lakewood Ranch in an 11-inning thriller....

    Plant City's Lexi Moore (9) Abbie Deweese (17) react after the Class 8A softball semi-final game between Plant City and Wellington at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Friday, May 19, 2017. Final score: Wellington 6, Plant City 1.
  8. State softball: Land O'Lakes gets another crack at American Heritage

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — Land O'Lakes made the state semifinals last year for just the second time in school history.

    At the time, that accomplishment was good enough for the Gators.

    On Friday at Historic Dodgertown, Land O'Lakes made it back to the state semifinals.

    This time, the Gators did not have that same happy-to-be-here mentality.

    Determined to take another significant step, Land O'Lakes beat North Fort Myers 2-0 in the Class 6A semifinals to advance to the championship game for the first time....

    Land O' Lakes center fielder Jesie McCallister (6) prepares to catch a pop fly in the bottom of the third during the Class 6A softball semi-final game between Land O' Lakes and North Fort Myers at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Friday, May 19, 2017. Final score: Land O' Lakes 2, North Fort Myers, 0.
  9. State softball: Land O'Lakes gets another crack at American Heritage

    Blog

    VERO BEACH — Land O’Lakes made the state semifinals last year for just the second time in school history.

    At the time, that accomplishment was good enough for the Gators.

    On Friday, Land O’Lakes made it back to the state semifinals.

    This time, the Gators did not have that same happy-to-be here mentality.

    Determined to take another significant step, Land O’Lakes beat North Fort Myers 2-0 in the 6A semifinals to advance to the championship game for the first time....

    Land O' Lakes third baseman Ashley Smith (9) celebrates after hitting a double in the top of the third during the Class 6A softball semi-final game between Land O' Lakes and North Fort Myers at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., on Friday, May 19, 2017. Final score: Land O' Lakes 2, North Fort Myers, 0.
  10. Armwood football coach Sean Callahan resigns

    Footballpreps

    Armwood High coach Sean Callahan, who turned the football program into a state powerhouse, resigned Friday.

    The longtime coach, who leaves with a 233-105 record, was already on an abbreviated timetable. This fall was supposed to be Callahan's final season. He was in the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program), a lucrative package for teachers who leave the profession within five years after signing up....

    Armwood head coach Sean Callahan is heaved into the air by Cody Waldrop at the conclusion of the second half of a 6A state semifinal high school football game against Bartram Trail on Dec. 9, 2011, at Armwood High School in Seffner. [Times files]
  11. State softball final: Canterbury finally breaks through vs. Aucilla Christian

    Softballpreps

    VERO BEACH — Final exams started Thursday at Canterbury School of Florida. For the nine seniors on the school's softball team, a bigger test was looming.

    The Crusaders, who made the state semifinals for the fifth straight season, advanced to the Class 2A state title game at Historic Dodgertown. Once again, Canterbury faced Monticello Aucilla Christian (18-9), the team that knocked off the Crusaders in the semifinals each of the past two seasons....

    Gold is particularly tasty for Canterbury catcher Danielle Romanello.
  12. Spring football: Clearwater 21, Clearwater Central Catholic 14

    Footballpreps

    Clearwater 21, Clearwater Central Catholic 14

    Spring game-breakers: Tornadoes running back Jarius Williams, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in seven games last season, showed his big-play abilities Wednesday. Running behind an offensive line that returns four starters, Williams scored on runs of 58 and 37 yards in the first half. … Steinbrenner transfer Colin Wray is taking over the quarterbacking duties at Clearwater from Austin Day, who is graduating. Wray moved the ball well, engineering three first-half drives, including a 2-yard touchdown run of his own. … Marauders running back Jerzhan Newton will be a force in the fall. The rising sophomore is a 6-foot, 220-pound bruiser who scored both of CCC's touchdowns on runs of 7 and 2 yards … Deandre Fitz-Henley played on both sides of the ball for the Marauders and had a sack on defense....

    Clearwater High School's Ali Salam (21) puts a hit on Clearwater Central Catholic's Jerzhan Newton (8) during Wednesday's (5/17/17) Spring football game at CCC.
  13. Plant's problem this spring? Too many quarterbacks

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — Plant's most glaring vacancy this spring is at quarterback.

    Last year, Dane Frantzen became the first bay area quarterback to rush for more than 1,500 yards and throw for 2,500 in a single season. He also led the Panthers to their first undefeated regular season since 2006 and an appearance in the Class 7A state title game.

    Frantzen will soon be headed to Virginia Tech as a preferred walk-on....

     Rising senior quarterback Jordan McCloud throws a pass during practice at Plant High School in Tampa, on Tuesday May 2, 2017. McCloud is the younger brother of  Ray-Ray McCloud (Clemson), and recently transferred to Plant from Sickles. During spring practice, Plant had seven varsity quarterbacks practicing.
  14. Palm Harbor University rides youth movement to state

    Softballpreps

    Palm Harbor University softball coach Kerry Katchuk has always thought of his team more in terms of the future than the present.

    After all, the Hurricanes have 13 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. There were older, more experienced teams that had waited their turn at the top, and PHU had not served the long apprenticeship that seems mandatory before winning a district title or making a state semifinal appearance....

    “I knew we could be good,” PHU coach Kerry Katchuk said. “I just didn’t know we would be this good.”
  15. Spring football: Nature Coast 44, Palm Harbor University 14

    Footballpreps

    Nature Coast 44, Palm Harbor University 14

    Spring game-breakers: Both teams found capable replacements on offense. The Sharks' Zach Powell showed he can fill the void created by the departure of 1,500-yard runner TJ Owens, who is graduating. Powell, a rising senior, rushed for three touchdowns, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter that tied the score, and a 7-yarder later in the quarter that put Nature Coast ahead for good. … Hurricanes quarterback Wyatt Beasey has the same dual-threat capabilities as Cameron Mouton, who is graduating. Beasey, a rising junior, had a 43-yard completion to Zach Johnson that set up Nick Carr's 2-yard touchdown run. In the third quarter, Beasey hit Josh McKee on a 7-yard touchdown pass that put PHU ahead 14-8....

    Nature Coast High School's Zach Powell (6) rushes against the Palm Harbor High School defense during Tuesday's (5/16/17) Spring football game at Palm Harbor.