Springstead shortstop Liberatore signs with St.Petersburg College

Published March 22, 2005

SPRING HILL - Academics were important. Location was important. The state of the program was up there as well.

But if Springstead shortstop Ashley Liberatore will be playing more than 100 fall and regular-season games with her new college team, one thing was crucial. She needed to likethe people she'd be spending the next two years with.

After meeting her future teammates at a tryout last month, Liberatore signed with St.Petersburg College, choosing the school over Hillsborough Community College, which also offered her a scholarship. The senior said she felt at ease with the Titans, some with whom she plans to spend her spring break.

"I just clicked with the girls, and that basically made my decision for me," Liberatore said. "They're so easy to get along with. At the practices, they were cheering me on and I could just sit and have a conversation with them."

Liberatore, who was among county leaders in batting average and RBIs, became the fifth Eagle out of eight to sign with colleges the past three years. First baseman Stephanie Discepolo recently signed with Pensacola Junior College, and Springstead coach Craig Swartout said leftfielder Heather Benson is expected to sign sometime before the end of the school year.

St.Petersburg College coach Lance Lamport (748-380 in 19 seasons) attended Monday's signing at Springstead, as did Liberatore's parents, Tom and Robin, and several Springstead teammates.

Last season, the Titans were ranked fifth in the state in NJCAA Division I and had three Academic All-Americans and two all-state players. They had nine members receive university scholarships.