Venice High baseball hits the road for state semifinal game

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VENICE, Fla. -- The Venice High baseball team was sent off in style this morning thanks to Venice Elementary School students.

More than 600 students lined the campus to give high fives. Many made signs of support for the team.

"Seeing all these kids cheering for you. It makes you feel like a celebrity," says Senior Rhett Dinka.

It's become a tradition says Head Coach Craig Faulkner, who is looking for his fourth state championship and third in a row. “We love coming over here. It's great for our players. It's great to see all these kids excited."

Some of the students know the players because of their reading mentoring program. "A lot of these guys went to Venice Elementary, but we all come over and do reading mentors, where we work with first grade and second grade kids on reading. They are very familiar with all of these students, so it's very special."

Principal Theresa Baus says it's a showing of what type of place the Venice community is and a thank you. "I think it is a chance for us to tell them how proud we are of the relationship we have."

Dinka says they too get something out of their extra activities, like with Habitat for Humanity and the Challenger Baseball Program for kids with disabilities. "I think working with the younger kids brings us all together."

Something must be working. If Venice can bring home a third straight state title, Faulkner believes it would be the first public school in Florida to do it.

“Our community is the best community to live in. We are very blessed to live here and coach here. Our community gets behind us. I can't wait to see the crowd that goes down to Ft. Myers. Hopefully we can bring home another state championship."

The Indians play Winter Haven in the state semi-final game tonight in Ft. Myers for a chance to repeat as state champs.