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Florida schools lure area preps

Several area athletes committed to state universities and colleges as the early signing period ended.

Six softball players, including Tampa Chamberlain's Melissa Zick, signed with Florida. Zick, a first baseman and outfielder, holds the Hillsborough County record for RBIs with 106 in three years and has batted over .450 the past three seasons. She chose Florida over Iowa, South Florida, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Other signees were catcher Michelle Diaz, West Palm Beach, shortstop Lauren Roussell, Los Cerritos, Calif., centerfielder/catcher Lacy Howard, League City, Texas, and twins Shelley (utility) and Stacey (pitcher/first baseman) Stevens of Gainesville.

Kentucky high school champion Jessie Mudd of Louisville, ranked No. 3 nationally by Junior Golf Scoreboard, also will play for the Gators.

USF signed baseball players: pitchers Yuri Higgins (Tampa Bay Tech), Daniel Albritton (Lakeland Lake Gibson), Casey Hudspeth (Sarasota) and Jason Smith (Bourne, Mass.), outfielder Ty Taborelli (Gaither) and catcher Robert Coello (Eagle Lake Lake Region).

Golfers Mary Calderon of Orlando Lake Highland Prep and Kylene Pulley of Kokomo (Ind.) Western also signed with the Bulls.

Eckerd volleyball got commitments from Mary McNicol (East Lake High), Courtney Cherry (League City, Texas), Adrienne Prestemon (Gainesville) and Erika Stearns (Naples).

HONORS: South Florida and Florida volleyball players won conference awards. USF senior outside hitter Michelle Collier was named Conference USA player of the year for the second time in three seasons. Nancy Mueller was named coach of the year, and senior Ale Domingos setter of the year. Junior middle blocker Bonnye Glover was named third-team all-conference, and middle blocker Corinne Walsh made the all-freshman team. Florida outside hitter Aury Cruz was named SEC player of the year, Mary Wise was coach of the year and blockers Benavia Jenkins, Nicole McCray and Cruz were named to the All-SEC first team. Outside hitter/blocker Jacque Robinson made the second team.

_ ANTONYA ENGLISH, PETE YOUNG,

JILL MARTIN, TIMES WIRES

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