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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

Softball: Four locals playing in Women’s College World Series

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The championship series of the Women’s College World Series features a quartet of local softball players (three from FSU and one from Oklahoma). Here are the four to follow.  

FSU

OF Cassidy Davis, Sr.

High School: Newsome

The redshirt senior, who has already won a state high school title and national title, decided to return after her senior season was cut short last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. A utility player who spent time as a pitcher throughout her college career, Davis became an outfielder this year. She had two homers in the Tallahassee Region finale against UCF, and had game-winning sacrifice fly outs against LSU in the Super Regional and Arizona in a College World Series elimination game. 

C Kaia LoPreste, Fr.

High School: Riverview

The redshirt freshman had an immediate impact with the Seminoles, appearing in 20 games during last year’s abbreviated season and hitting .304. This year she has a .227 average and two doubles. 

UTIL Elizabeth Mason, Sr.

High school: Gaither

One of the Seminoles’ most versatile players, Mason can play just about anywhere in the field. She played a critical role in FSU’s run to the national title in 2018. She has been a consistent producer on offense throughout her college career. In the playoffs, Mason has come up big, hitting a game-tying homer against LSU in the Super Regionals and blasting a three-run shot against Alabama in the deciding game to reach the World Series. 

Oklahoma

P Shannon Saile, Sr.

High school: Land O’ Lakes

Saile already made headlines by starting in game two of the Sooners’ Super Regional series with Washington that aired on ABC, the first nationally broadcast game in the sport. Saile helped Oklahoma advance and will likely pitch in at least one game in the College World Series. Saile helped Land O’ Lakes reach the state semifinals during her high school career and is trying to cap her college career with a national title.  

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College Softball

Shannon Saile has spotlight in history-making softball game

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Former Land O’ Lakes standout Shannon Saile had the spotlight when she took the mound in Saturday’s history-making moment in college softball. 

Saile, a redshirt senior, was named the starting pitcher for Oklahoma in game two of its Super Regional series against Washington. The game is being aired on ABC, the first time a college softball game has appeared on national television. 

A star initially at Florida International, Saile transferred to Oklahoma, where she compiled a combined 18-4 record and 215 strikeouts the past two seasons.

She decided to return to the Sooners once last season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

To prepare, Saile works out with former Land O’ Lakes pitcher Callie Turner, now at Tennessee. They throw off a makeshift mound in an area neighborhood designed by Gators assistant coach Vinny Guarracino. The rubber is made from pieces of an old tire. Home plate is assembled from wood. 

There are other workout items Saile has at her disposal, all courtesy of the Sooners. She has body bands, medicine balls and jump ropes. Oklahoma even sent her a diamond kinetic ball that can track the velocity, as well as the spin rate and direction, on each pitch. 

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. 

This season, Saile is 16-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 116 strikeouts entering the second game of the Washington series. 

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College Softball

Softball: FSU-LSU Super Regional has plenty of local angles

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The Super Regional between FSU and LSU, which starts tonight, will feature plenty of familiar faces. Four former bay area softball standouts (three with the Seminoles and one with the Tigers) are expected to be in the starting lineup. Here are the four to keep an eye on. 

LSU

Photos courtesy of LSU Athletics

OF Aliyah Andrews, Sr.

High school: East Lake

The fifth-year senior, one of the country’s top players, will be playing professionally after being selected ninth overall in the Athletes Unlimited college draft two weeks ago. Her older sister, AJ, was a standout at Countryside and with the Tigers. In fact, there has been at least one Andrews sister in the outfield for LSU the past nine seasons. Aliyah currently is hitting a team-leading .370 with 19 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. But she known more for her acrobatic catches that often end up on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.

FSU

Photo courtesy of FSU Athletics

OF Cassidy Davis, Sr.

High School: Newsome

The redshirt senior, who has already won a state high school title and national title, decided to return after her senior season was cut short last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. A utility player who spent time as a pitcher throughout her college career, Davis became an outfielder this year. She has nine home runs this season, including two in last week’s Tallahassee Region finale against UCF. 

Photo courtesy of FSU Athletics

C Kaia LoPreste, Fr.

High School: Riverview

The redshirt freshman had an immediate impact with the Seminoles, appearing in 20 games during last year’s abbreviated season and hitting .304. This year she has a .227 average and two doubles. 

Photo courtesy of FSU Athletics

UTIL Elizabeth Mason, Sr.

High school: Gaither

One of the Seminoles’ most versatile players, Mason can play just about anywhere in the field. She played a critical role in FSU’s run to the national title in 2018. She has been a consistent producer on offense throughout her college career and has nine doubles and seven home runs this season. 

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