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College Softball

FGCL summer softball league debuts on Thursday

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The Florida Gulf Coast League, the first of its kind for college softball players, starts its inaugural season on Thursday. 

The seven-team league will play a 25-game schedule during the next five weeks. More than 56 colleges at every level have at least one player participating. 

Former Olympian Michele Smith, now a lead analyst at ESPN, will throw out the first pitch during Thursday’s opening ceremonies. The league debuts with three games on Thursday, all played at Palma Sola Park in Bradenton. 

Thursday’s schedule

River Mocs vs. Lynx, 5:30

Impact vs. Fastpitch U, 5:30

Squeeze vs. Pioneers, 7:30

Several locals are playing in the league’s debut season. Here are some of the more recognizable names. Click here for more information on the league.

Fastpitch U

OF Madison Lewis

High school: Chamberlain

College: Florida International

The Impact

3B/C Hannah Perez

High school: East Bay

College: Warner

Lynx

INF Jaylnn Ford

High school: Palm Harbor University

College: Florida Atlantic

Manatee Squeeze

UTIL Jordyn Kadlub

High school: Pasco

College: USF

Myakka City River Mocs

INF Claire Ginder

High school: Newsome

College: Furman

OF Maggie Trgo

High school: Newsome

College: Western Kentucky

The Pioneers

C Neely Peterson

High school: Cypress Creek

College: Colorado State

INF Megan Pierro

High school: Steinbrenner

College: USF

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College Softball

Jessica Warren has the spotlight in inaugural softball league

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Diving catches have become a regular occurrence for Jessica Warren. 

Two years ago, the former Alonso standout made an acrobatic, full-extension grab from third base in the 2018 women’s College World Series.

That play not only helped FSU win its first national title but also put Warren in the national spotlight, even for years to come.

Last year, Warren became just the fourth female ever to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, joining former Countryside and LSU star A.J. Andrews on that exclusive list. Two months ago, ESPN’s 7-inning podcast crew voted Warren as the greatest third baseman to ever play college softball. 

All of that in large part to “the catch”. 

This past week, she did it again. 

In a scrimmage for the inaugural Athletes Unlimited softball league, Warren went all out, leaping for a catch from third base in a play that was a near facsimile of the one she made in the College World Series. 

Warren made other plays, too, so many that she was named one of four captains for the league’s opening games on Saturday. 

Her selection meant that she was able to draft a team from the league’s pool of 56 players. She even had a team named after her in a league that does not follow traditional formats. 

Teams  — and rosters  — change weekly. Players accumulate points based on individual and team performance. The top four scorers each week earn captain honors for the following week, and the right to draft players. 

Players are not just trying to win. They are vying for a top individual ranking much like tennis, which will be announced at the end of the five-week season. 

Warren is not the only local in the league. 

Andrews also was among the 56 players in the pool. She is playing for Team Pendley in the first week’s set of games. 

There are plenty of softball ties with the Andrews family. A.J.’s  two younger sisters, Aliyah (East Lake/LSU) and Athena (East Lake/Florida A&M) both have made a name for themselves in the sport, too. 

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College Softball

Shannon Saile headlines local group of FGCL all-stars

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The Florida Gulf Coast League finishes its five-week inaugural season with all-star game Saturday at the Lakewood Ranch softball complex.

Three former area standouts were selected as all-stars, headlined by Oklahoma’s Shannon Saile, who starred at Land O’ Lakes.

Saile (featured photo above courtesy of OU Athletics) spent the summer playing for the Bradenton Slice in the seven-team FGCL, the first league of its kind for college softball players. She was dominant, finishing first in strikeouts and third in ERA.

The other local selections were Megan Pierro (Steinbrenner/USF) and Neely Peterson (Cypress Creek/Santa Fe College).

FGCL All-Star Game

When: Saturday, noon

Where: Lakewood Ranch Softball Complex

Admission: $10

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College Softball

Devin Abraham joins IMG’s staff

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Devin Abraham, a star at East Lake and USF, has joined IMG Academy’s staff as a defensive backs coach. 

His father, Donnie, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001, was IMG’s defensive coordinator for two years (2015-16). 

This is the second former Pinellas County standout the Ascenders hired this week. On Monday, Shaun King, who gained notoriety quarterbacking Gibbs, Tulane and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, announced he was going to be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the powerhouse program

Devin had 19 interceptions in his high school career. As a senior in 2013, he helped lead East Lake to the state semifinals. He went to play at USF, where he made 37 starts in 46 games. His nine career interceptions with the Bulls is tied for fifth-best in program history.  

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