Parker ex­pect­ing big things from new rou­tine Welling­ton to make state fi­nal de­but

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - SPORTS - By Chris Perkins Staff writer By Carl Ko­tala Cor­re­spon­dent

MI­AMI BEACH — Dol­phins wide re­ceiver De­Vante Parker is aware that of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Clyde Chris­tensen said he sees a hun­grier, more ded­i­cated Parker this off­sea­son.

“He’s not ly­ing to you,” Parker said Thurs­day at the Fins Week­end golf tour­na­ment at Mi­ami Beach Coun­try Club.

“I’m just tired of just be­ing hurt and not healthy a full sea­son, [so] ex­pect some big things this year.

Parker, the 2015 firstround pick, has been slowed by foot and ham­string in­juries in both of his sea­sons with the Dol­phins. He ad­mit­ted it’s been a frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Al­though he posted ca­reer bests in re­cep­tions (56), yards (744) and touch­downs (four) last year, Parker wants to do bet­ter, so he’s changed his off­sea­son rou­tine.

“I’m just re­ally fo­cused in the weight room on leg work­outs mainly,” he said. “I still do up­per body but I just­want to do legs, getmy ham­strings right for the sea­son.”

And Parker said he’ll be driven by the frus­tra­tion of the pre­vi­ous two years to stay on course to be bet­ter this year.

“I’ve ba­si­cally been in­jured the whole time I’ve been here, ba­si­cally,” he said, “and I’m fi­nally com­ing in this year with a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.”

T.J. McDon­ald, the Dol­phins’ newly ac­quired safety, must sit out the first eight games of the 2017 sea­son due to a NFL sus­pen­sion. But McDon­ald, who­cut­san­im­pres­sive fig­ure at 6 feet 2, 217 pounds, said he can’t wait to team with fel­low safety Re­shad Jones, who is a well built 6-1, 214 pounds.

“He’s a lot big­ger than I thoughthe­waswhenI saw him,” McDon­ald said Fri­day. “I didn’t knowhow­big he was. But us two to­gether back there that’s pretty big, that’s a lot of hits.”

McDon­ald’s sus­pen­sion comes from a vi­o­la­tion of the NFL Pol­icy and Pro­gram for Sub­stances of Abuse. He pleaded guilty in Jan­uary to one mis­de­meanor count of reck­less driv­ing in­volv­ing drugs or al­co­hol fol­low­ing a May 2016 ar­rest in Cal­i­for­nia.

McDon­ald has started all 53 games he’s played in his ca­reer, and last sea­son he posted 64 tack­les and two in­ter­cep­tions.

Coach Adam Gase, whose de­fense ranked 29th in the NFL last year, said he likes the pos­si­bil­i­ties with McDon­ald and Jones.

“Both guys are able to ei­ther be down in the box or back in the mid­dle of the field,” Gase said, “so so any­time you’ve got in­ter­change­able pieces that’s a good thing to have.”

Right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who re­ceived a fifth-year op­tion worth about $8 mil­lion for 2017 from the Dol­phins, said he didn’t stress over whether he’d get the deal.

“Man, that­was never on my mind, hon­estly,” he said Fri­day. “I’m just wor­ried about this year and the team and build­ing off wherewewere last year.”

The Dol­phins’ 2016 play­off berth earned them four na­tional TV games in 2017. It’s also do­ing good things for sea­son ticket sales.

“We ex­pect to be sold out of our avail­able sea­son tick­ets by prob­a­bly early Au­gust,” said team pres­i­dent and CEO Tom Garfinkel. “In terms of ticket sales, usu­ally this year’s per­for­mance af­fects next year’s sales more. We had sold prob­a­bly 90, 95 per­cent of the tick­ets be­fore we played a game last year. It’ll be the same thing this year, and we ex­pect to be sold out in ev­ery game.”

ch­perkins@sun­sen­tinel .com, Twit­ter@Chrisperk

VERO BEACH The Wolver­ines never ex­pected to get here.

That’s what made mo­ment so in­cred­i­ble.

Welling­ton will play for its first state soft­ball cham­pi­onship Satur­day. The Class 9A Wolver­ines took care of that Fri­day by com­ing back from a one-run deficit to de­feat Plant City 6-1 at His­toric Dodger­town.

Welling­ton will play Or­ange Park Oak­leaf, a 10-0 win­ner over St. Thomas Aquinas, on Satur­day at 5:35 p.m.

“Oh my God, this is awe­some,” Welling­ton sopho­more Katie Sch­midt said. “This is whatwe all­worked so hard for. At the be­gin­ning of the year, we had no ex­pec­ta­tions. We just came out, we got so far and we wanted to do some­thing for our school.”

Sch­midt cer­tainly did her part, driv­ing in the ty­ing run in the fourth in­ning and then hit­ting a two-run dou­ble in a five-run fifth in­ning that saw the Wolver­ines break the game open.

“I went up there and I was just [think­ing] I need to get some­thing started,” Sch­midt said. “We needed to start some­thing. Wewere kind of dead in the be­gin­ning. I was like, ‘I want to start some­thing for our team this time.’”

What Sch­midt started, Kate Des­i­mone fin­ished.

The fresh­man pitcher struck out six and gave up four hits to help theWolver­ines to an his­toric vic­tory.

“It’s crazy,” Des­i­mone said. “I never ex­pected this to ever hap­pen, and now we’re go­ing to the cham­pi­onship game. We were happy just to be here to­day.” the

As well as she pitched, it wasDes­i­monewho­brought the Welling­ton crowd to a roar, rac­ing home on a bunt by Cat Glenn to score the go-ahead run.

Af­ter Plant City took a1-0 lead in the sec­ond, Welling­ton coachMark Boretti said he had one mes­sage for his team.

“I just tried to tell them, ‘loosen up, loosen up,’ ” Boretti said. “We got the one run [in the fourth] but that next in­ning­was the big one. We put some runs on the board and we did, we played loose.

“We did a lit­tle small ball, and I’m not a small ball guy, but we did it and it worked. We got some runs and now we go to the cham­pi­onship [game], the first time ever for Welling­ton High School.”

A 10-0 de­feat cer­tainly wasn’t the re­sult the St. Thomas Aquinas soft­ball team was look­ing for out of Fri­day’s state semi­fi­nals, but the Raiders were still able to take away some­thing very valu­able: Ex­pe­ri­ence. Or­ange Park Oak­leaf proved sim­ply too much for the young Raider­son­Fri­day af­ter­noon, ad­vanc­ing to the Class 8A ti­tle game with a shutout vic­tory at His­toric Dodger­town.

But con­sid­er­ing St. Thomas Aquinas’ ros­ter is loaded with five fresh­men, five sopho­mores, four ju­niors and only four se­niors— Kaylei Wil­cox, Ken­dall Richard­son, Al­ley Masocco and Lind­say Gehring – there is plenty to build on for the fu­ture.

“I’m proud of th­ese kids,” Raiders coach Bryan Bau­com­said.“had an upand-downyear. We’ve had a lot of games where we played like to­day— a cou­ple of er­rors here and there, they get a cou­ple of bloop hits and things hap­pen.

“But we went on a lit­tle run there. We grew up a lit­tle bit. We’ve got a lot of youngkid­sandthis is a good ex­pe­ri­ence for them com­ing up here.”

Madi­son San­tana and Kris­ten Sacca had the only two hits of the day for the Raiders, who also com­mit­ted five er­rors and left five run­ners on base.

The game was a re­match of last year’s state semi­fi­nal that sawthe Raiders get the win. Fri­day was a chance for Oak­leaf to get a lit­tle re­venge.

CARL KO­TALA/COURTESY

Kate Des­i­mone slides home safely with the go-ahead run as part of a five-run fifth to helpWelling­ton beat Plant City.

TAIMY AL­VAREZ/STAFF FILE PHOTO

Wide re­ceiver De­Vante Parker has been slowed by in­jures in both of his sea­sons with the Dol­phins.

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