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Citrus' own 'Natural'

Alycia LePage took to the sport late, but has adapted quickly and turned into a star.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002


INVERNESS -- Citrus junior Alycia LePage is so smooth on the field it looks as though she has played the sport her entire life.

Not so.

She picked it up only five years ago.

"Basketball was always my sport," LePage said. "I was pretty young when I stared with that. I always had a little hoop, and I would play at home."

What drove LePage to softball?

Her friends -- specifically Mettina Maggiore, now a Citrus teammate.

"She was always like, "Why don't you come out?' " LePage said.

"I wasn't really into it, but I said, "I'll come watch.' So I would watch my friends play, and they all said that I really needed to play."

Once LePage started, there was no going back.

As it turned out, she was a natural.

"I picked it up pretty quick," LePage said. "And my dad (Citrus assistant Al LePage) is a pretty good player, so that helped."

LePage, who also plays basketball and volleyball at Citrus, made an immediate impact with the Hurricanes softball team.

She earned the starting nod at second base as a ninth-grader and batted .429 with 21 runs and 30 stolen bases.

Last season, she hit .301 and led the county with 17 RBIs. She finished among the top seven in the county in batting average, doubles, hits, home runs, RBIs and triples.

After both seasons, LePage earned Times All-Citrus/Hernando and All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference honors.

"I think she's just one of these kids that's a natural athlete," Citrus coach Scott Waters said. "She could do anything she wants to because she's got good hand-eye coordination and good athletic ability."

Hitting hardly is LePage's only attribute.

She also is Citrus' fastest player, which makes her dangerous on the basepath and rangy in the field.

"She's quick, she can cover, she's got a strong arm ... she can do everything," Waters said. "She runs down balls, goes deep into the hole and throws to first. If you need it done, she's the one to do it."

Conditioning is another strength.

"She's in excellent shape," Waters said. "She doesn't seem to tire. In a lot of girls, there's a noticeable difference, a gradual decline in energy from the beginning of practice until the end. But she just goes like a top."

This season, LePage has switched from second base to shortstop.

She first played the position last summer as a member of the Clearwater Bombers, a traveling team whose coaches also taught her how to hit from the left side.

"Now, she can bunt and slap the ball left-handed, and I'll tell you what, with her speed, teams are going to be hard-pressed to throw her out," Waters said. "She can lay a bunt down and get to first before it's even covered."

LePage's ultimate goal is to earn a college scholarship. At this point, that seems to be attainable.

"If she plays to her ability, she doesn't need to work on a lot," Waters said. "Somebody would be crazy not to grab her."

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