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Invitational a who's who of county alums

By NANCY MORGAN
Published February 25, 2007


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Next month's USF Adidas Invitational brings several county softball players back to the area to showcase their skills.

Among the 24 teams participating are N.C. State with coach Lisa Navas Tarpon Springs/Michigan State with assistant coach Nikki Myers (St. Petersburg/FAU) and USF, including volunteer assistant coach Carmela Liwag (Pinellas Park/USF), Bree Spence (Countryside), Kit Dunbar (Countryside/Western Kentucky), Alison Savarese (Seminole) and Tara Toscano (Palm Harbor University).

Staged at the Eddie C. Moore Sports Complex in Clearwater, the tournament is March 8-11.

Navas is especially looking forward to returning to the area.

"It's always nice to get the chance to come home," said Navas, fourth-year coach of the Wolfpack. "My family has always been a big part of my career and I'm looking forward to being with them. The teams in this tournament are excellent and the competition will be good."

Navas, 41, attended elementary school at St. Paul's United Methodist in her hometown until she was 11 when she moved to Tampa. She began playing softball in 1972 and, after attending high school in New Mexico, went to top-ranked Oklahoma City University. In 1987, Navas qualified for the U.S. Pan-American trials.

Navas transitioned from playing to coaching when the shortstop accepted the head position at Barry University. After nine years at the helm, Navas assisted at North Carolina until an offer to head up N.C. State's inaugural fastpitch program was offered in 2004.

In her first season, the Wolfpack posted a 32-27 record, followed by a fourth-place finish in the ACC the next year. Last year, Navas led her squad to the ACC regular-season and tournament titles to gain a berth in the NCAA field. The 2006 ACC Coach of the Year is dedicated to moving forward.

Myers is in her third year coaching at Michigan State and is focused on sharing her pitching prowess with the Spartans. Myers is 20th all time in the NCAA in strikeouts with 1,376 and was inducted into FAU's Athletics Hall of Fame last year.

Liwag, USF's starting first baseman all four years, lends her infield expertise to players.

"It will be fun to come over to Pinellas for our team to play," Liwag said. "We have several players from Pinellas and it shows how good a talent base Pinellas has."

Bulls' junior pitcher Spence (1-1) carries a 0.82 ERA. Selected C-USA Freshman of the Year, then second-team All-Big East last year, Spence is a key factor in the No. 24-ranked team's success.

Junior outfielder Dunbar is third in hitting with a .333 average, freshman infielder Savarese is fourth with a .263 average and freshman outfielder Toscano is hitting .243.

For more information on the invitational, go to www.eventsatfloridasbeach.com/fla/adidasusf07schedule.php.

MORE SOFTBALL: Dani Hofer (PHU) hurled her second collegiate career no-hitter for No. 5 LSU against Missouri State and is 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA.

- Starting rightfielder Allison Kidman (Countryside) is averaging .333 at the plate with a .429 on-base percentage for Michigan.

- Starting centerfielder Sarah Yates (Countryside) helped West Point to a 5-4 win over Mercer with a bases-loaded two-run single.

BASEBALL: Freshman Ryan Luker (St. Petersburg) is among the top five hitters for Rollins and has connected for a home run, three doubles and a triple scattered among 13 hits. The starting second baseman has 12 RBIs for the Tars.

TRACK: USF vertical jumper Courtney LaCroix (PHU) tied the school's high jump record with a personal best of 5-8.75 in the Big East Indoor Championships.

- Queens University junior Amber McClain (St. Petersburg) was named to the Division II All-Academic Team. The team co-captain earned at least a 3.25 GPA and placed in the top 30 regional cross-country contests.

BASKETBALL: West Point senior guard Jen Hansen (Seminole) posted 14 points in a 58-43 win over Navy in the annual Trophy Game.

- Northwood's Chad Radosevich (St. Petersburg Catholic/HCC) scored 17 in an 83-74 win over Savannah College of Art and Design. The win gave Northwood a share in the Florida Sun Conference title.

- Christian Boyle (St. Petersburg) is a freshman guard at Northwood.

- Cruz Daniels (Clearwater) leads the High Point squad in blocks and is averaging 13.7 minutes per game. The freshman center grabbed a key rebound in the final seconds for the Panthers to help beat UNC Asheville 69-67.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

[Last modified February 24, 2007, 20:43:22]


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