VALRICO — At this time of year, local sports fans are waving goodbye to another group of graduating high school athletes. These players will leave for college, ushering in another group of prep stars.
But whatever happened to some of those prep stars of the recent past?
The Times took a look at some spring sport athletes who will be wrapping up their senior seasons at the Division I collegiate level in Florida. Think back a few years, and chances are these names will ring a bell.
Allison Kime, Bloomingdale: Kime's time at the University of Central Florida may be over, but her legacy will live on for quite some time. The senior pitcher finished the 2008 season 34-12 with a 1.17 ERA. Kime leaves the program with 11 career pitching records. She set five single-season records in 2008, including wins, innings pitched (305.1), complete games (36) and strikeouts (359). Kime also pitched the Golden Knights to an upset victory and knocked in the game-winning run in extra innings to defeat then-No.1 Florida in a regional game.
Kime, a two-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA All Southeast first-team selection, recently signed a free agent contract to play for Rockford (Ill.) Thunder of the National Professional Fastpitch League.
"I am extremely excited for Allison to be able to further her career in the professional ranks," UCF head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "This is a great opportunity for her and will showcase her talents at a higher level. Rockford definitely made a wise decision in picking her up for their squad."
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Brandon McArthur, Armwood: The former Hawk just completed his senior season at the University of Florida, hitting .337. But that McArthur was even on the field at all, let alone hitting above .300, is a feat in itself. During his freshman year in Gainesville, McArthur hit his head on the concrete during an attack outside an off-campus bar. The injury left McArthur in a drug-induced coma for five days, required three brain surgeries and doctors weren't sure if he would survive. Fourteen months later, he was back on the field.
After McArthur's junior year was nearly completely wiped out due to ulnar collateral surgery in his throwing elbow, the former fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2003 helped the Gators to a 34-24 record this year, finishing fourth on the team with 44 RBIs.
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Ryan Strauss, Bloomingdale: The Florida State righty was a big reason for the Seminoles' success this year, posting a 9-1 record and recording one of two complete games for FSU. Strauss, who led Bloomingdale to the state semifinals, was second on the Seminoles in appearances (21) and saves (four). The senior, who started in the Seminoles' regional final win, also fanned 65 batters in 76.2 innings.
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Dwayne Bailey, Riverview: The UCF speedster topped the team in hits (77) and tied for the lead with 21 stolen bases and 47 runs scored. Bailey, an exceptional infielder who committed just three errors in 236 chances, was a major reason the Golden Knights were able to top the .500 mark for the first time in three seasons. He was named Conference USA Hitter of the Week after going 10-for-15 with seven runs scored, two RBIs, three stolen bases, two doubles and a triple in a series Feb. 22-24 against Florida A&M.