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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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College Softball

Professional softball players rip ScrapYard Dawgs organization after controversial tweet

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The ScrapYard Dawgs and the USSSA Pride were set to kick off a summer tour of games between the two professional softball organizations on Monday. 

One social media post has put the entire tour in jeopardy. 

As the national anthem played, the ScrapYard Dawgs posted a tweet that not only praised the teams for standing but also tagged President Donald Trump, an advocate for respecting the American flag.

The commentary in the post, which suggested the teams were in unison on the flag stance, infuriated players from both organizations, nearly all of whom had spent the past few months showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many players attributed the post to ScrapYard Dawgs general manager Connie May. The tweet was later deleted but the damage was already done. 

Former Countryside and LSU standout A.J. Andrews played for the ScrapYard Dawgs from 2018-19. Andrews, who became the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in 2016, has used her celebrity softball status to embrace social issues, especially involving African American women in sports.

Two years ago, Andrews was part of an ESPN special called Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete. The program, presented by The Undefeated, spotlighted black female athletes and their struggles to become prominent figures in the sporting world. The special included segments of a panel discussion held at Morgan State University that Andrews hosted.

Andrews was disgusted by the post from her former team, saying the issue was never about the flag. 

Other prominent African American players in the sport slammed the organization. 

Several players currently with the ScrapYard Dawgs said they would no longer represent the organization. 

There also was support from the USSSA Pride. Former Alonso and FSU star Jessica Warren plays for the pride and voiced her displeasure about the since deleted tweet.

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