Ex-PHU pair wrap up college careers together

Published August 13, 2006

Katie Dobson and Janine Palumbo, 2003 Palm Harbor University graduates, were part of history at Jacksonville University. The pitcher-catcher combo were members of the first freshman class that introduced fastpitch softball to the Division I school.

"That's certainly something I'll always remember from my college experience," said Dobson, who turned 22 this month. "In that first season and first game, I started as pitcher. My first pitch was a strike and Janine caught."

From her freshman season, Dobson made 146 appearances, including 120 starts. In her final season this year, the right-hander started 31 games and appeared in 40 to collect a 15-17 record and a 2.27 ERA.

Palumbo, who turns 23 Friday, was attracted to Jacksonville because of its smaller size.

Dobson's first experience was with Junior Miss Softball as a 9 year old, then Countryside Little League through the seventh grade. She also played for the Clearwater Bullets and Bombers though high school.

"I started pitching and playing around with pitching with my dad and then started lessons when I was about 13," Dobson said. "I took lessons all through high school. Pitching for me is an adrenaline rush, and I really like the fact that as a pitcher I'm involved in every aspect of the game."

While Franquet coached at Central Florida Community College, he began recruiting Dobson. He was Jacksonville's head coach in 2003 when Dobson and Palumbo accepted scholarships there. Like Dobson, Palumbo was introduced to softball at 10. She was influenced by some of her friends who were catchers to try that position.

"You have to be more of a listener when it comes to the pitchers you catch," Palumbo said. "Then you have to switch modes and use a more dominant personality when directing players and be a leader on the field. That's a little out of character for me because I'm kind of shy, but I worked at it."

Dobson capped her senior year with the Atlantic Sun Conference selection of Pitcher of the Week in March after hurling 38.1 innings in seven appearances that included four wins and five complete games.

Palumbo posted a career-best .333 average her final season and led the team in hits with 49. In each A-Sun game this season, Palumbo connected for at least one hit, including a seven-game hitting streak and eight multiple-hit games.

The conference named Palumbo second-team all-conference. The Dolphins recognized her with an MVP selection at the end of the season.

With graduation complete, softball will take a back seat while Dobson pursues a career in nursing and Palumbo enters graduate school to prepare to be a physical therapist.

MORE SOFTBALL: Nikki Myers (St. Petersburg/Florida Atlantic) completed her second season as assistant coach at Michigan State, working primarily with the pitching staff. This month, Myers joins her Connecticut Brakettes in the National Professional Fastpitch League Championships. Myers recorded a 7-3 record and earned a 2.24 ERA for the pro team.

* LSU's Dani Hofer (Palm Harbor University) is spending the summer pitching for the Stratford Brakettes in Connecticut. This weekend, Hofer and her teammates are competing in the ASA Women's Major National Championships in Amherst, N.Y. Before the tournament, Hofer posted a 13-1 record, struck out 124 in 89.1 innings and led the team with a 0.66 ERA.

* Pitcher Jess Byrn (Countryside) was 7-1 after a five-inning performance against Clark University to end Division III Babson College's regular season. Byrn gave up four hits, struck out five and allowed no runs in the 10-0 win.

BASEBALL: Nolan Brannon (St. Petersburg) recorded a .338 average for Hillsborough Community College in his second season. The catcher was named Suncoast All-Conference first team. This summer, Brannon played for the River Bandits in the Valley League and averaged .192 in 31 games.

* USF shortstop Addison Maruszak (Pinellas Park) hit .204 in 35 games for the River Bandits in the 10-team league.

* Evan Brannon (St. Petersburg/SPJC/Florida Atlantic) completed his second season as assistant coach at Randolph Macon College. After graduation, shortstop Brannon played for Baltimore's short-season affiliate, then joined the Cal Ripken Baseball organization.

* Dunedin graduates Cory Trudell and Kevin Garcia completed their first year at Gulf Coast CC. Trudell averaged .200 in 16 games for the 39-8 squad and Garcia hit .310 in 20. Garcia recorded a 3-1 pitching record with a 3.70 ERA.

SWIMMING: Robert Margalis (Clearwater/Georgia) swam to a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter individual medley at this month's USA Summer National Championships in Irvine, Calif. Margalis' time of 4:12.92 was less than three seconds behind winner Michael Phelps. Margalis was selected to compete in the Pan Pacific Championships Aug. 17-21 in Victoria, British Columbia.

TRACK: Grant Scelzi (Largo) placed eighth in pole vault in USF's first appearance in the Big East Conference Championships. The former high school state champion jumped 15-3 for the Bulls.

BASKETBALL: St. Petersburg College point guard Josh Neri (Pinellas Park) plans to continue his playing at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C.

FOOTBALL: Division III Ithaca College senior kicker Brett Kitenplon (Admiral Farragut) is a preseason All-American honorable mention .