Fastpitch Opens Season at JuCo Kickoff Classic on January 28

January 27, 2012 Contact: Scott Jamison 352.395.5616 scott.jamison@sfcollege.edu

SF FASTPITCH

SANTA FE GEARS UP FOR OPENING DAY AT THE KICK-OFF CLASSIC IN CLEARWATER JANUARY 28

Gainesville, FL – The seven time defending Mid-Florida Conference champion Santa Fe Saints open their 2012 season on the road Saturday, January 28 with a triple header in Clearwater at the JuCo Kickoff Classic.

SF will face off against three of the top teams in the state, starting with defending State Champions and FCSAA #5 ranked Miami-Dade College at 11:00 AM, #9 Polk State College at 1:00 PM and conclude the day against #7 Gulf Coast State Collegeat 5:00 PM.

The Saints prepared for the spring regular season with a challenging fall schedule that saw them play the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of North Florida amongst other NCAA Division I and II schools.

“After a challenging fall where we played some strong DI teams with arguably the best pitchers in the state of Florida and possibly in the country, we hope to build on the experiences in the spring,” said SF Coach Chris Ahern.

Santa Fe returns nine players from last year’s MFC championship squad, including all-conference selections: OF Bianca Torres, SS Ashley Holton, 1B Alaysia Miller, OF Brittney Mayhill, and 1B/P Erika Garcia. Rounding out the returners are OF Nicole Day, OF Jessica Threadgill, INF Lindsey Fischer, and P Stephanie Cameron

“We have a good group of sophomores returning for us this year,” said Ahern. “Each of them helped contribute to our success last season and we expect more of the same this year.”

Leading a strong freshman class is Puerto Rican national team member Karla Claudio-Rivera (Adianez, Puerto Rico). In the fall, Claudio-Rivera competed in the Pan American Games as well as the ISF Junior Women’s World Tournament for her home country.

“Her experience against the best players in the world should help ease her transition to the college game,” said Ahern. “She is a very talented player that will contribute at pitcher and the corner infield spots for us.”

Joining Claudio-Rivera are nine other freshman looking to make an immediate impact. Kimberly Booker (Bartow) and Layne McDermond (Thomas County, GA) will share the catching duties and Coach Ahern seems very confident in their ability to handle the pitching staff.

“We have to very talented freshman catchers this season,” said Ahern. “Both will be significant contributors and we expect both to provide solid defense and pop in the lineup.”

Coach Ahern will have many different options at pitcher this season. Erika Garcia and Stephanie Cameron pitched limited innings last season and they will again see time in the circle in 2012. Freshman Cierra Miller (Cumberland, MD), Amber Richardson (Cheifland), Shannen Marchu (Port St. Lucie), and Claudio-Rivera join the mix, giving the Saints many different options at the pitching position.

Outfielder Paige Sandiford (Jacksonville), 3B Ashley Orta (Land O’ Lakes), OF Aileen Fiallo (Hialeah), and 2B Vanessa Ortiz (Lake Mary) round out the Saints talented freshman class.

“We have a lot of new faces this season,” said Ahern. “Together this team has a chance to be very good. Our sophomores know what it takes to win in the Mid-Florida Conference and our freshman our ready to prove themselves. We’ve been preparing since August for this, and we are ready to go.”

After the Kick-Off Classic, SF will play on the road at Hillsborough CC on February 2 and at State College of Florida-Manatee on February 4. The first home games for the Saints are on February 7 against Tallahassee CC at 2:00 and 4:00 PM.

For complete schedules and more information on Saints Fastpitch, please visit www.sfcollege.edu/athletics. To see game photos and other updates, follow Santa Fe College Athletics on Facebook.

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