HomeTeam 25: Softball players to watch

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P Ashley Blessin, So., Plant City: Times' Hillsborough County Pitcher of the Year last season went 18-2 with a 1.13 ERA and 204 strikeouts as a freshman while leading the Raiders to a school-record 24 wins.

OF Mia Buffano, So., Palm Harbor University: Florida recruit had an impressive high school debut, hitting .411 with 36 RBIs and seven home runs as a freshman.

SS Taylor Bump, Sr., Canterbury: Michigan signee is a five-year starter at shortstop. Last season, she hit .424 with 28 RBIs and had 18 stolen bases.

P Hailee DeCicco, Jr., Gaither: Assumes the role of ace with Sammi Grat graduated. Last season, DeCicco went 10-4 with a 0.91 ERA and 86 strikeouts.

IF Makenzie Griffin, Sr., Countryside: North Florida signee can play just about any infield position. She hit. 383 with 27 RBIs and four home runs to help the Cougars reach the state title game.

IF Katie Hale, Sr., Academy of the Holy Names: Cornell signee has been a consistent hitter throughout her career. Last season, she posted her best numbers with a .554 average and 26 RBIs.

UTIL Sloan Hammons, Sr., Durant: Florida Atlantic signee did a little of everything for Cougars last season. She hit .400 with 17 RBIs and also had 72 strikeouts on the mound.

P Jodi Handler, Jr., Alonso: Last season, she was the starting pitcher during the Ravens' run to the state title game. She will share pitching duties with Kristin Kopp this season.

IF Hope Hernandez, Sr., Chamberlain: Troy signee hit .415, scored 30 runs and had 23 stolen bases as a leadoff hitter for the Chiefs last season.

P Alexis Kilfoyl, So., Academy at the Lakes: Last month, Kilfoyl was selected for the USA Softball junior women's national training team. She is coming off a stellar season in which she went 11-5 with a 1.36 ERA and 163 strikeouts.

C Kaia LoPreste, So., Riverview: USF recruit already is one of the top catchers in the area. As a freshman, she led the team in hitting with a .447 average and had 26 RBIs.

UTIL Edmilly Molina, Sr., Plant City: Palm Beach Atlantic signee has power at the plate. Last season, she hit .443 with two home runs, four triples and 32 RBIs.

IF Haley Morrell, Sr., Academy of the Holy Names: Florida Gulf Coast signee was among the most productive Jaguars at the plate, hitting .494 with 25 RBIs and six home runs last season.

P Haley Murphy, Jr., East Bay: A big-game pitcher, Murphy went 15-8 with a 2.40 ERA and 193 strikeouts in a tough district to lead Riverview to the region final. Now she's with the Indians.

IF Abby Oliver, Sr., Springstead: Last season, Oliver was second on the team in batting with a .450 average. She also had 17 RBIs and three home runs.

P Abbey Primavera, Sr., Nature Coast: Lake Sumter State College signee battled through an ankle injury last season to go to 17-3 with a 1.06 ERA and 120 strikeouts.

C Paige Pfent, Jr., Springstead: North Florida recruit was the Times' North Suncoast Player of the Year after hitting .549 with 12 home runs and a whopping 52 RBIs.

P Melanie Rogers, Fr., River Ridge: After going 10-4 with a 2.83 ERA and 132 strikeouts last season, Rogers should put even better numbers as the ace this year.

C Danielle Romanello, Sr., Canterbury: Florida signee overcame an ankle injury last season to bat a team-leading .597 with four home runs and 31 RBIs to help the Crusaders reach the state semifinals for a fourth straight season.

IF Alexa Russo, So., Tampa Catholic: USF recruit had a solid debut last season, hitting .542 with 29 RBIs and three home runs to help the Crusaders reach the postseason.

P Callie Turner, So., Land O'Lakes: With Shannon Saile gone, the Tennessee commit takes over as the ace. Last season, Turner went 5-0 with a 0.46 ERA and 79 strikeouts.

P Caylie Van Auken, Sr., Boca Ciega: USC Upstate signee struck out 139 batters while leading the Pirates to their second straight district title last season.

P Megan Weisenberg, Jr., Osceola: The team's ace is coming back from a knee injury. Last season, she was 8-4 with a 2.17 ERA and 55 strikeouts.

IF Tia Williams, Jr., Land O'Lakes: Once again, she will be counted on to be the top slugger in the lineup after hitting .433 with 32 RBIs and four home runs last season.

P Kama Woodall, Sr., Springstead: North Carolina State signee overcame some injuries last season to post solid numbers, going 18-1 with a 0.76 ERA and recording 163 strikeouts.

 
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