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    Ex-Seminole star is a hit at West Point

    By NANCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2001


    Since playing tee ball when she was 4 years old, Nicki Robbins (Seminole) has hardly left the field.

    A junior cadet at West Point, Robbins has led the nation in hitting with a .508 average, been named to the All-Decade Patriot League Team and owns five all-time school records and six single-season marks.

    "Nicki is one of those gifted athletes," Army coach Jim Flowers said. "The fact she was named to the All-Decade Patriot League after just two years tells you how gifted she is.

    "What's most important to us, though -- and what we look at in recruiting -- is the whole person, knowing there is life after softball, and consider her growth and development as a person," Flowers said.

    Tabbed an All-American candidate last year, Robbins recently was named the Army Athletic Association Athlete of the Week for batting .516 in 10 games.

    "Softball is my life," Robbins said. "It's been the one constant in my life."

    One of 636 women in a school of 4,000-plus men, Robbins quickly learned to prioritize duties as a cadet, student and an athlete. Balancing those tasks has allowed her to develop on and off the field.

    "It's like a roller coaster ride," she said of her tight schedule. "Academics are demanding, our duties are enforced and you want to get in shape for softball, but there are only so many hours."

    Robbins has excelled offensively and defensively. Her batting average has been at least .500 all season, and she boasts a .905 slugging percentage. She leads Army in seven offensive categories and tops the Patriot League in four.

    "My parents and coaches have always said I had quick hands," Robbins said. "I think that allows me to adjust quickly to pitches.

    "Defensively, I think my throwing ability is my biggest strength," she said. "If runners are on and a ball comes to right field, they usually don't run."

    Robbins is the first in her family to attend West Point. Her interest peeked for the school after a friend was visited by West Point recruiters. The friend ended up going to Stetson, but Robbins became interested.

    Robbins is looking forward to her remaining time at West Point, especially a summer trip to Thailand and the Philippines to continue her studies in geography. After graduating next year, she will have a five-year commitment to active duty.

    Beyond that, not even Robbins knows.

    MORE SOFTBALL: Nicole Myers (St. Petersburg) helped Florida Atlantic University sweep Troy State in a doubleheader with a home run in both games. She finished with five RBI in 7-0 and 3-2 victories.

    Myers was named Trans America Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for the fifth time this season after recording her sixth career no-hitter in a 7-0 win over Samford.

    Pitcher Kelli Lightner (Clearwater) and Myers faced off in a season-ending doubleheader last week.

    Lightner led Stetson to a 6-1 victory in the opener, allowing six hits and no earned runs and logging 15 strikeouts. Myers responded in Game 2 with a one-hitter, no earned runs and 13 Ks for a 2-1 FAU win.

    Stephanie Shrum (Palm Harbor University) was 3-for-4, scored three runs and had an RBI in the final doubleheader for Gardner-Webb University.

    BASEBALL: Florida State freshman Jeff Probst (CCC) has become the starting shortstop due to an injury. Probst has a .964 fielding percentage. He's hitting .275 with 2 home runs and 15 RBI.

    Chris Hart (Clearwater) is a platoon player for the Seminoles who primarily has played third base in 12 starts. The sophomore, plagued by leg and shoulder injuries, is hitting .238 with 8 RBI.

    FSU freshman pitcher Mark LaMacchia (East Lake) has a 5-1 record and .431 ERA with 42 strikeouts.

    GYMNASTICS: University of Denver's Ashley Shible (East Lake) earned second-team All-American honors in the vault at the NCAA Championships recently in Athens, Ga. It was 15 years ago when a Pioneer was last named an All-American.

    TENNIS: For the third time in the University of Georgia's history and the first since 1994, the Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference women's championship.

    Sisters Christa and Lori Grey (Seminole) contributed to a 4-1 victory over Tennessee in the final. Christa, a senior, paired with Mariel Verban to squeak out a 9-8 decision in No. 3 doubles. Lori, a sophomore, teamed with Aarthi Venkatesan to score an 8-0 triumph at No. 1.

    Second-seeded University of Miami upset top-seeded Notre Dame to win its seventh Big East Conference title in nine years.

    Third-year Hurricane Joel Berman (Seminole) has been sidelined with an injury and didn't play in the championship.

    TRACK AND FIELD: Samford sophomore distance runner Erin Giesa (Northside Christian) was an All-TAAC selection after a third-place performance in the league meet.

    Giesa set a school record in the 10,000 meters with a time of 39:03. She is a dean's list accounting major and Fellowship of Christian Athletes member.

    Rose Richmond (Lakewood) won the long jump with a leap of 20 feet 2 1/2 inches for Indiana University on the Hoosier's outdoor track.

    Richmond and teammate Maria Fleischmann finished first and second, respectively, in the triple.

    Florida State's Jason Dean (Clearwater) was second in the pole vault in the ACC Championships with a performance of 16-6.75.

    FSU's Misty Harper (Seminole) was 16th in the 5,000-meter race in the ACC meet with a time of 18 minutes 24.66 seconds. In the 10,000 meters, she had the team's fastest time and the 10th overall, 39:31.

    DIVING: Florida sophomore Sarah Close (Dunedin) placed 22nd in the platform event of the U.S. Indoor Championships in Midland, Texas.

    She has qualified for national competition in the 1 and 3 meter and platform.

    SOCCER: Erin Morse (Lakewood) was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-South second team for her performance at Elon College.

    The senior assisted the Phoenix in an 8-11 season, including a 5-1 Big South Conference record. Morse was second on the Elon squad in scoring with 17 goals and had a .469 goal percentage.

    WATER POLO: Cadet Robert C. Decker (St. Petersburg) is a member of the Army team at the U.S. Military Academy.

    The squad finished third in the Northeast Regional Championships and qualified for the national championship, at the University of Texas.

    Upon graduation from West Point in 2002, Decker will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army.

    -- News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119, e-mailed to namgamma@gte.net or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, Fla. 33756. Please include your phone number.

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