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SOFTBALL RECRUIT IS FOUND SLAIN

Amanda Buckley, 18, could have been a freshman starter at Saint Leo University.

Amanda Buckley's skill on the softball diamond made her a natural for a college athletic career.

Saint Leo University softball coach Christi Wade scouted the young woman from Palm Beach Gardens and was thrilled when she accepted a scholarship. Buckley figured to report soon for her freshman year.

Buckley, 18, was found strangled Friday night in the home of 26-year-old Jason Shenfeld, according to Palm Beach County authorities. He was charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery and false imprisonment after his parents discovered the body.

State records show previous arrests on robbery, battery and drug and alcohol charges, as well as an arrest last year on charges of sexual assault with a weapon and kidnapping, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post.

Wade learned of the tragedy in a brief conversation with Buckley's father Sunday afternoon.

Buckley was honored Sunday night during a vigil attended by hundreds on a Palm Beach Gardens baseball field.

Wade spent much of Sunday informing Saint Leo's players of the death. Many, including Wade, plan to attend the funeral.

Buckley was expected to be Saint Leo's leadoff batter and to compete for a middle infield spot as a true freshman.

"I was looking for her to come in and fight for second base or shortstop," Wade said. "We got two great recruits in for the middle infield. They were going to be very complementary of each other working in the middle."

Buckley recently attended freshmen orientation at Saint Leo, but Wade last saw her two weeks ago in Jacksonville.

Wade said she was drawn to the young woman's bright smile.

"She was taken from us before we really got to know her and see her daily,'' Wade said. "She was a brilliant young lady who was going to come up and do some great things for us. It's a tragic way to lose a life."

Izzy Gould can be reached at izzygould@gmail.com or (727) 580-5315.

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