The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 31, 1998 · Page 31
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 31

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 31, 1998
Page 31
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SECTION C TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 1998 SOFTBALL INSIDE High school extra: No-hitters galore Area high school pitchers have the upper hand in fast-pitch softball. PAGE 6C Strickland, Conlon help Heat shine Miami reserves are taking full advantage of increased playing time. PAGE 5C CLASSIFIED: 11-19 EXTRA The Palm Beach Post SPORTS Livan happy about season, everything else m IIIM . ll l II I Much happened so quickly for the Marlins ace, and Cuban defector, Livan Hernandez, who really, at 23, has not yet begun to pitch. got things pretty well figured out. "Livan hasn't changed much," teammate Alex Fernandez said. "I'm sure he's more knowledgeable of the game now, and he's rich and he's famous, but he doesn't seem to change much." Of course, he didn't have that diamond stud in his left ear when he fled Cuba, now did he? "I look at life a lot differently than I did before," Hernandez said. "I think more about things before I do them. I have more responsibilities now." They are welcome responsibilities, born of the freedom he coveted so much that he left his home and family behind for the uncertainty of minor-league baseball in the United States. "In Cuba, you lived a more relaxed life," he said. "I would go out to the discos the day before I "r ft t -v d ' reached the pinnacle of fame at 23, and he's living life as simply as he pleases. Hernandez will start today's season opener for the Florida Marlins against the Chicago Cubs. It's the first time he's started a season with a major-league team, but no other starter today comes to the mound equipped with last year's NLCS and World Series MVP awards. Hernandez uses a translator (his English is much better, but he still doesn't trust it for interviews), but the impression comes through clearly that for a guy who escaped his home country in search of freedom and money and became a star on the biggest and brightest stage imaginable, he's Before Livan Hernandez left Cuba for the 'good life' in America, hie wiirtpt rireams nrnhahlv couldn't have Dortraved such a SUCr By Dan Graziano Palm Beach Post Staff Writer MELBOURNE He can't pass somebody in the hall without a high-five or a pat on the shoulder and one of those broad, bright I-love-you-Miami smiles. Just can't do it. He's too happy. And why shouldn't he be? He plays baseball for a living and golf in his free time, and every day he gets to drive his choice of brand-new Mercedes to the park or the course. Livan Hernandez is not a guy on whom fame is weighing heavily. "I'm always happy," Hernandez said. "I like to be happy. Because that way, life is so much more fun." And there you have it. He's Down Please see MARLINS5C d 12, Kentucky rallies for title ALLEN EYESIONtStatf Hhotographef By Greg Stoda Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ' SAN ANTONIO There is no middle ground. There is basketball heaven and basketball hell. That's how it works in Kentucky. ! And this year's Wildcats have made an art of applying the general theme to game-by-game performance. They need their own hell to find their own heaven. Kentucky won its seventh NCAA championship Monday night in the Alamodome its own Seventh Heaven by beating Utah 78-69. The hell? That was a 10-point half-time deficit (41-31) the Wildcats faced. Never before had a title-game winner overcome such a disadvantage. But these Wildcats did. "We're comeback kids," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "These kids have done it all." The Wildcats (35-4) had been down before in the tournament. In the South Regional final, they battled back from a 17-point second-half deficit against Duke and in the national semifinal they fell behind by 10 before rallying to beat Stanford. "We've come back all year long," Wildcats guard Cameron Mills said. "Every time we fell behind, we never quit." They recovered from a first' half during which the Utes shot, 57.1 percent and held a 24-6 rebounding edge. Utah missed a dozen shots from the field before half time, but grabbed nine offensive rebounds. What was left for the Wildcats was absolutely no margin for error. So, they made few mistakes from there to the finish. They went from making no three-point field goals in the first" half (in six tries) to making five in the second half. They went from being pounded on the boards to holding an 18-15 advantage in that category after the break. And they became the first -team all season to make at least half its shots from the field against Utah. Please see KENTUCKY6C L.w , AM BklL A look at opening day - Marlins vs. Cubs 4:35 p.m., Pro Player Stadium, SportsChannel Marlins probable lineup Cliff Floyd LF Edgar Renteria SS Ryan Jackson IB Gary Sheffield RF Mark Kotsay CF Charles Johnson C Craig Counsell 2B Josh Booty 3B Livan Hernandez P y- v Ray day The expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays, led by former Marlins pitching coach Larry Rothschild (above), open today at Tropicana Field against the Detroit Tigers, who have moved from the AL East to the Central. Lefthander Wilson Alvarez will start. Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Al Lopez and Monte Irvin will handle the ceremonial first pitch. "It will be fun to be part of this," Devil Rays DH Paul Sorrento said. "It's history in the making." Other firsts - The season begins at Shea Stadium when the New York Mets face major league strikeout leader Curt Schilling and the Phillies at 1:40 p.m. - Cal Ripken extends his consecutive games streak to 2,479 when Baltimore hosts Kansas City. - Former Marlin Kevin Brown starts for the San Diego Padres when they play at Cincinnati. Final say "Opening days are very special. As far as the season goes it's the one day that sticks in your mind. It's not the playoffs, but the atmosphere is pretty close." - BRADY ANDERSON, Orioles center fielder 0nTV Royals at Orioles 3 D.m., ESPN Brewers at Braves 4 p.m., TBS Indians at Mariners 7 p.m., ESPN Rockies at Diamondbacks 10 p.m.. ESPN Inside - Rookie Ryan Jackson gets start for Marlins. 4C - This opening day much different than last year's. 4C - A farewell to spring training a Roger Dean Stadium. 20C cessful beginning as he's had. PHOTOS BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS J3" rf ' 'J rv-N I py! r x - X I If v W I ; m ' " r ' "" " . w -J ' " j , 'J ' ' V;""V'v:' I f , , ........ of the Wildcats' 78-69 victory against Utah in the NCAA championship game. Sheppard finished with 16 points. Jeff Sheppard (15). whose jumper with 4:53 left gave Kentucky the lead for good, and coach Tubby Smith were the centerpieces Utes' impossible dream turned out to be just that w I 111 Greg Stoda Did you? Did you believe it was possible for Utah to claim college college basketball's national championship by knocking off yet another of the game's blueboods? Well, don't start believing now. It's too late. Kentucky the blue-clad blueblood from the Blucgrass State ended the dream Monday night in the Alamodome. The Wildcats claimed their second national champion in three years, and seventh overall, by overcoming a 10-point half-time deficit the biggest comeback from that juncture by a winner in title-game - Km 'V? U SAN ANTONIO Usaw Utah. But did you ever believe? Really, really believe in the improbable collection of Utes? Even after their demolition of defending NCAA champion Arizona in a West Regional final more than a week ago? Even after they substantiated that thrashing by popping top-ranked North Carolina in a naUonal semifinal game upon arrival at the Final Four party? Did you believe in the 6-11, 263-pound fly-fisherman who, sooner or later depending on NBA career possibilites will pursue a medical career? Or in the kid from Helsinki, Finland, with the surname accentuated by three umlauts? i u Or in the Rhodes Scholar candidate? Or in the youngster pulled from some of the most dangerous streets in Los Angeles, plopped down in might-as-wcll-be-thc-other-side-of the-world Salt Lake City and given control of a team? Or in the sideline boss who is so much girth and mirth? Utah's unlikely odyssey through the NCAA Tournament, which included a Final Four victory over top-ranked North Carolina, ended in Monday night's final against Kentucky. PU ase see ST0DAfC

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