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Army's Robbins named league's best in softball
By DAVE THEALL
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 7, 2000
A former Seminole High softball player at Army has been named Patriot League Player of the Year while leading the Cadets to their first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore outfielder Nicki Robbins, also a product of the Clearwater Lady Bombers program, exploded with a 4-for-5 performance in the final of the Patriot League championship tournament at Allentown, Pa., last weekend. In a 12-10 come-from-behind victory over Lehigh, she also had three RBI and scored two runs.
Robbins drove in the winning run in the Cadets' opening-game 5-0 shutout of Bucknell, and scored the winning run in a 2-1 semifinal win over Lehigh.
For the regular season, Robbins led the league in six categories: a .415 batting average, 54 hits, on-base percentage of .441, 83 total bases, five triples and four homers. Her 33 RBI broke the West Point single-season record.
With two more years to play, she's well ahead of pace to break every offensive record, including hits. She has 121; the record is 171.
In 10 regular-season league games, she batted an amazing .595 with a slugging percentage of .784.
Army coach Jim Flowers, in his 10th season, said he is continuously amazed at Robbins' accomplishments.
"Nicki is one of the best players I ever recruited to West Point," Flowers said. "She's a legitimate Division I .400 hitter."
Michael Lawson, Army's assistant sports information director, emphasized that Robbins in on course to break every school and league record.
"She'll do that even though she's not batting cleanup," he said in a phone interview. "She bats second or third. She'll even deliberately foul off bad pitches to get the one she wants rather than walk.
"She's really determined, intense and takes things hard. It's going to be exciting watching her up against the likes of the marquee players in the nation from schools such as Florida State, UCLA and Washington. ... She's been nominated for All-America honors."
The NCAA will announce the seedings and pairings for the championship tournament next Sunday. MORE SOFTBALL: Kieley Hughes (Boca Ciega), a standout outfielder at St. Petersburg Junior College last year, is at Webber College in Babson Park this season. However, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament in January and was lost for the season.
BASEBALL: At South Florida, junior right-hander John Vigue (Seminole) has won a career-high seven games this season against five losses. His ERA is 5.51. He has a career-high 53 strikeouts and has walked only 24 compared to 44 last season.
Brendan Fuller (Clearwater) has an 0-2 record with a 12.54 ERA. He has walked 43 and struck out 25.
First baseman Mike Eylward (Clearwater) continues to swing a potent bat, ranking among the top 10 in Conference USA in four categories. He's batting .337 with 63 hits, 50 RBI and 3 triples.
Mike Barclay (Countryside) is batting .301 with 11 doubles and 2 homers. Former Cougars teammate Vince Parisi is batting .266 with 3 doubles and 5 homers.
The Bulls host the conference championship tournament at St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field at Florida Power Park May 17-21.
At Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Ill., sophomore pitcher Ryan Sadorf (Keswick Christian) helped the Tigers compile a winning record this season while posting a 3.50 ERA.
At FSU, left-handed relief pitcher Mike DiBlasi (Countryside), who led the Atlantic Coast Conference with nine saves last season, is 1-0 this season for the 41-9 Seminoles. He has 26 strikeouts and 10 walks with an ERA of 2.40.
Designated hitter John Halliday (Clearwater) is batting .157 with three homers.
Catcher Chris Hart (Clearwater Central Catholic) started five of the Seminoles first eight games before going down with a season-ending injury.
At Gainesville, Aaron Sobieraj (Dunedin) continues to lead the Gators at the plate with a .400 average. Former Falcons teammate Peter Nystrom is hitting .363 with 50 RBI and five homers.
PRO BASEBALL: Josh Meurer (Largo High), a 1999 graduate of Erskine College, was released by the Texas Rangers after spring training at Port Charlotte. He has taken a teaching position with Pinellas County at Belleair Elementary School.
Chris Heintz (Countryside/USF) is catching for the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox affiliate in the Double-A Southern League. He's batting .270. In Tuesday's 5-1 win over the Greenville Braves, Heintz singled off former Atlanta Braves ace Steve Avery.
TRACK: Erin Giesa (Northside Christian), a middle-distance runner at Samford, suffered an asthma attack during last weekend's 10,000-meter event at the Trans America Athletic Conference Championships and had to settle for seventh place. She finished her freshman season with the team's top times in the 3K, 5K and 10K events.
Rose Richmond (Lakewood) ran the anchor leg on Indiana's winning 4x100-meter relay team in the slower heat of two at last weekend's Penn Relays. She also long-jumped 18-6 for 15th place, well off her best this year of 19-11.
At Florida, Shannon Burcham (Clearwater) has the fastest 5,000-meter time (18:20) for the Gators heading into the SEC Championships May 11-14.
VOLLEYBALL: Julie Bekker (East Lake), a junior at North Florida, has been awarded the Dorothy S. Sorion Endowed Scholarship for academic excellence, competitive spirit, athletic achievements and for being a role model for young adults.
Bekker led the UNF Ospreys to the Peach Belt Conference Championship last season and a 23rd national ranking among Division II schools.
FOOTBALL: Browning Nagle (Pinellas Park High/Louisville) is quarterbacking the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League. Last season he was with the Orlando Predators. Nagle played four seasons with the New York Jets and one with the Atlanta Falcons.
-- Timely news for this column may be e-mailed to email@example.com, or mailed to Athlete Update, St. Petersburg Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756.
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