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  • Yale grad DeSantis is a hit on, off field

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    Yale grad DeSantis is a hit on, off field

    By NANCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 10, 2001


    Excelling in academics and athletics, R.D. DeSantis (Dunedin) wrapped up a stellar career at Yale University this month.

    The history and political science graduate earned a 3.75 GPA and captained the baseball team his senior year.

    DeSantis was named to the 2001 Verizon Academic All-District University team and received honorable mention on the All-Ivy squad.

    "Some of our students struggle when they first come to Yale," said John Stupor, the Ivy League school's baseball coach. "When R.D. came here, his academic credentials were beyond reproach."

    DeSantis credits good study skills he learned early for his ability to balance a rigorous class schedule and gruelling practice regime for baseball.

    "I viewed it all as more of a challenge," DeSantis said. "One thing I decided was that I wouldn't be like the stereotype athlete that didn't do well in school."

    Since his freshman year, DeSantis has made A or A-minus grades. A top-10 percent finish in his graduating class convinced DeSantis that his dedication and study skills paid off.

    When he was elected by his teammates as captain of the Bulldogs his final season, the outfielder heartily accepted the honor and was praised by Stupor for his efforts.

    "Being voted by your peers says a lot of what they think of you," Stupor said. "R.D. has never been afraid of hard work, and being captain is a big deal. It is time demanding and involves leading off-season workouts, disciplining within the ranks and attending some social functions."

    Yale finished the season 12-22 overall and was 6-14 in the Ivy League. DeSantis led the team in batting with a .336 average, was first in hits (40) and second in doubles (7) and RBI (18). For the third consecutive year, he committed just one error. "I've always been a pretty good hitter and found it pretty natural," DeSantis said. "As an outfielder, you basically need to just cover your territory. That's different from playing the infield."

    DeSantis has been involved in the sport most of his life, and he grew up watching former slugger Dale Murphy and the Atlanta Braves on television.

    As a 12-year-old in 1991, DeSantis competed in the Little League Baseball World Series as a member of the Dunedin National Little League club.

    "Probably one of the biggest influences in my baseball career was my experience in Little League," he said. "Then going to Dunedin High School and playing under coach Greg Nichols took my game to another level.

    "I took a lot for granted when I was going through it all," DeSantis said, "but in college I really learned to appreciate what all I had gained."

    Living almost next door to the practice field for the Toronto Blue Jays only added to DeSantis' sense of pride in playing the game.

    Last month during activities celebrating Yale's 300th birthday, former President George Bush made an unannounced visit to the field and met the team. Bush, a first baseman for Yale and its captain in 1948, shook hands with DeSantis and chatted with the squad.

    "We exchanged a few words and talked about baseball, as well as the presidential election in Florida," DeSantis said. "He was more interested in talking about others than himself. I was quite impressed with him."

    This summer, DeSantis is going to work some of the baseball camps Stupor will have at Yale. After a brief trip home, DeSantis will begin his new career as an American History teacher and assistant baseball coach at a school in Georgia.

    MORE BASEBALL: Corey Slavik (Boca Ciega) finished his career at Wake Forest with a .331 batting average and as the third highest in runs scored (61) and fourth in homers (10).

    The Chicago Cubs selected the third baseman in the 10th round of the recent major league draft.

    Peter Nystrom (Dunedin) batted .800 with 8 hits and 4 RBI for Florida in the NCAA Regional Tournament in Miami. The senior finished the season with the team's third highest average (.353) and second most RBI (48).

    Fellow Gator Aaron Sobieraj (Dunedin) contributed a .277 average.

    Despite rehabing from a stress fracture in the back most of his final season at Clemson, Patrick Boyd (CCC) was drafted in the seventh round by the Dodgers.

    The 1999 All-American was first drafted after high school and again after his junior year at Clemson last season.

    South Florida senior Bill Nahorodny (Clearwater) connected for a career-high eighth home run in a 7-2 win over Winthrop in the NCAA Regional in North Carolina.

    USF's Mike Eylward (Clearwater) finished his season with .335 average.

    Jeremy Kurella (Dunedin/Northwestern) batted .401 this season with 7 home runs. The senior infielder, named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, was drafted by the Phillies.

    Honorable Freshman All-American status was awarded to Jeff Probst (CCC) at FSU. He started all 42 games and played shortstop and second and third base.

    Probst hit .267 and was chosen to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team in Tallahassee.

    Chris Maggi (Countryside) finished his junior season at Elon College with a .250 average. TENNIS: Christa Grey (Seminole) compiled a 76-42 singles record in her four years at Georgia.

    Grey played a key role in the Bulldogs' Southeastern Conference championships the last two seasons and NCAA title this year. She was recognized as a Scholar Athlete at Georgia and will be teaching at Knoxville Racquet Club in Tennessee.

    Grey's younger sister, Lori (Seminole), earned a No. 56 ITA ranking, accumulated a 20-8 singles record in her first two seasons at Georgia and was named for the second consecutive year to the All-American team.

    Senior Nigel Mitten (Thom Howard) led UNC-Greensboro to its first Southern Conference title in four seasons with a 7-3 singles record at No. 2 and 9-1 mark in No. 3 doubles.

    Reinaldo Valor (Clearwater) completed his first year at N.C. State with a 9-12 singles record and 9-8 mark in No. 1 doubles.

    DIVING: Eric Warrick (Admiral Farragut) completed his sophomore season for West Virginia University. In the Big East Conference Championships, he placed 10th in the 3-meter competition and 14th in the 1-meter.

    BASKETBALL: Josh Postorino (Clearwater/University of Dayton) has been promoted to third assistant coach at Dayton.

    Postorino, 24, played for the Flyers 1995-1999 and was their coordinator of basketball operations last year. A month ago, he accompanied the Flyers on a five-game Australia tour.

    SOCCER: Rhegan Hyypio (Lakewood) rounded out her standout career at Marquette University with recognition for her academic excellence.

    Hyypio was one of two Golden Eagles selected Scholar Athlete of the Year. Hyypio, a history and philosophy major, graduated with a 3.12 GPA.

    She led the team to a 20-3-1 record, including an NCAA tournament berth.

    Starting all 24 games, Hyypio was named a first-team All-American and first-team honoree to the All-Conference USA and Great Lakes Region squads.

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