Cantanach working usual magic in college volleyball

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I have wanted to write something on volleyball mastermind Chris Catanach for quite some time. I met him several years ago, but we never had an opportunity to talk. That opportunity came over the weekend. Coach Catanach has been the volleyball coach at Tampa University for 28 years and was one game shy of a national title last year.

"You never want to finish second, but we are proud of our accomplishment," said Catanach. "It is very rewarding to set many goals for a season and then accomplish almost all."

That was last season. Tampa is rolling this season with a 9-0 record and have their sights set on returning to the dance.

"So far, we are 9-0 and playing very well," said Catanach. "We had to scrap our plan to run a 6-2 offense since two of our three setters have injuries. We are currently running a 5-1 offense."

The leading hitter for Tampa is St. Thomas native Danielle Selkridge. The junior has been a key element to the team's success.

"Selkridge is leading us in kills, kill percentage and hitting efficiency," said Catanach. "She was recently named Sunshine State Conference Player of the week."

On Sept. 12, Selkridge picked up that honor by leading the third-ranked Spartans to a 4-0 record that included a couple of wins over nationally ranked teams. The 6-foot-2 powerhouse has three double-digit kill games so far this season. The first came in a win over Azusa Pacific. She added 15 kills in a three-set sweep over No. 17 Emporia State, and added 25 more in a five-set win over No. 8 Central Missouri.

"Danielle is a very hard worker, very committed, and also very hard on herself," said Catanach. "Her progress has been slow but steady. She is one of the best athletes we have ever had, but she has struggled with her timing and coordination. I wish we had a couple more years after this one for her to fully develop. She arrived here at 17 years of age. Most kids are closer to 19 when they arrive."

As for Danielle, Tampa was on her mind when we chatted.

"I love playing at Tampa and being a part of a challenging program like this one," said Selkridge. "I have grown so much as a player and as an individual in my time being here."

I am very excited about this season and the chance to win a NCAA title," she added. "All of us on the team, especially the seniors, would like to be able to go to nationals this season and play in the Championships once again. This is our ultimate goal of the season, and we will continue to play game by game and try to achieve this."

Selkridge, who grew up on Tortola, whas played for the U.S. Virgin Islands on the international level.

"I plan on continuing to play on the Virgin Islands national team," said Selkridge. "It is like family, and I can't let them down by not showing up."

When my collegiate career is over, I hope I could get a pro contract," added Selkridge. "If not, then I'll look into options to further my studies. Then I plan on returning home and spreading the word on volleyball to the younger ones."

Callix Crabbe in AA playoffs

I was awakened Monday morning by the voice of Kenny Todman.

Todman, who I call "Toddy," is the baseball coach at Charlotte Amalie High School, and he was so happy that one of his players had made the playoffs.

"Junior, I got to tell you that Callix Crabbe and New Hampshire are in the playoffs," said Todman. "I think they have a team that could win the Eastern League AA Championship.

Crabbe helped New Hampshire (76-65) to its first division title since 2004. He finished with a .259 average, 7 home runs and 31 runs batted in. New Hampshire is a AA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cotton succeeding after transfer

Jamaine "Big" Cotton has enjoyed success after being reassigned. He started with the Greenville Astros, where he amassed four wins and one loss. On Aug. 8, he found out that he was moving to Tri-City.

"I got promoted to Tri-City and won my first game," he said. "It was definitely a good move to transfer."

Cotton played in five games with the Valley Cats and finished with a 2-1 record. The right-handed pitcher watched his ERA drop from 5.45 with Greenville to 3.68 with Tri-City.

"My season went well," he said. "I met a couple of my goals this year, and made things happen for myself. I went from a reliever to a starter, and I was invited to the Instructional League for the Astros at their spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla. This was a great season for me professionally."

Mariners' White learning on the job

Finally, Richard White, who was drafted this year by the Seattle Mariners, played in his first game on Aug. 6, and also played in a handful of minor league levels.

"Well, my season went pretty good," said White. "I threw in five games and only had one bad game. I learned a lot about the game. I've been told that I have great talent and to use it. When I saw my name in the draft, I was really excited. It was just a dream come true, and I am so happy to have made it this far.

"I am going to try to be the best role model for the next generation of baseball players," added White. "I want to give them inspiration that they can make it. You don't have to be a great player to make it. You just need discipline and love of the game."

White's best game of the season was a 7-strikeout game on Aug. 20 against the Rangers. He finished with 13 strikeouts in a no-decision.

- David Edole is a V.I. resident and sports enthusiast.

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