Commentary | Two Manatee County Cal Ripken clubs play for Florida championships

July 16, 2013 

Manatee Cal Ripken, based out of Heritage Harbour, had two teams reach state championship games.

Manatee's 9-and-younger as well as its 12-and-younger (70-foot bases) teams advanced to the Florida State Tournament's final.

For the 9-and-younger, that meant fighting its way through the loser's bracket in the double-elimination tournament held in Altamonte Springs.

Manatee won twice to begin the tourney, before Okeeheelee gave Manatee its first defeat this past Friday.

Then the locals reeled four consecutive victories, including one over Okeeheelee, to set up a winner-take-all title game against the two sides.

Meanwhile, the 12-and-younger Manatee squad breezed through the winner's bracket in their division with three wins. However, the club lost 5-0 to Winter Park on Sunday that sets up a championship game between the two teams as both already have incurred a loss.

A victory for both Manatee teams means a trip to next week's regionals, held at Franklin (Tenn.) and Palm Beach Gardens, respectively.

Charging to nationals

The Chargers Soccer Club at the Lakewood Ranch Premier Sports Campus is heading to the U.S. Soccer National Premier League Champions Cup this week in Aurora, Colo.

The Chargers earned a berth into the national tournament with an 8-1-0 record during the Florida Premier League season that culminated with a 4-1 title-clinching victory over the West Florida Flames.

During the FPL season, the Chargers outscored opponents in their nine matches by a 52-6 margin.

There are 14 clubs vying for the national championship in three flights.

The Chargers are paired against five other teams in Flight C, and begin the tournament against Cobras Aguilitas (from Washington) on Thursday.

Each of the 14 sides play three matches over three days, before the top four square off in Sunday's semifinals and those winners meet Monday for the final.

Success in the sand

Area volleyball players took to the beach this past weekend at the Dig The Beach Volleyball tournament held at Siesta Key.

The junior tournament witnessed several local players put forth strong showings.

They include: Ashley Allmer and Jaclyn Dinenberg (16 Open, first place), Layne Thompson and Kenzie Walker (16 Open, second place), Cameron Graham and Nicole Grant (16 Open, fifth place), Grace Pfeil and Madison McNally (14 Open, third place), Samantha Norden and Allison Allmer (14 Open, fourth place), Kahlee York and Andrea McDonald (14 Open, fifth place) and Katy Cameron and Madison Binkley (12 Open, fifth place).

The players represent Coastline Volleyball Club.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill

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