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Ex-Green Devil shines for Florida Atlantic softball team

By NANCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 24, 2001


Softball has been an integral part of Nicole Myers' life.

Introduced to softball in a Little League program in St. Petersburg, Myers enjoyed a stellar career at St. Petersburg High, winning the Times Player of the Year and Suncoast Player of the Year awards as well as being first team all-state.

Myers completed her third year at Florida Atlantic last month and continued to acquire accolades, being named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American second team.

"Nikki is a dream player," FAU coach Joan Joyce said. "The only thing that would make the dream better would be if she played another position when she wasn't pitching. She could, but I've chosen to use her as a designated hitter instead."

Myers' hitting prowess is a result of natural talent, Myers said. Never having a private hitting or pitching coach aside from the team coach through high school, Myers relied heavily on her ability.

"One of the things I quickly learned in college was that at that level, everyone is pretty good," said Myers, 20. "It was a wake-up call for me in pitching. Players one through nine can all hit. I learned a dropball and improved on my riseball. It was learning the fine details that I needed the most help with."

Myers was a quick learner, leading the nation in strikeouts with 10.9 per seven innings finishing seventh with a 0.57 ERA. Myers was 26-13 and set a team record in strikeouts with 403, turning in 11 shutouts. Myers allowed just four runs in 104 innings.

She helped FAU win its fifth consecutive Trans America Athletic Conference title and three trips to NCAA regional play. Myers was the TAAC most valuable player the past three years and player of the year the past two.

Myers scored 40 runs, hit .376 and had 49 RBI. Myers' 19 home runs were third in the nation.

This summer, Myers is going to school to work on her requirements to become a veterinarian. With one season left at FAU, Myers looks forward to another good year, though some key players graduated. After next season, Myers isn't certain of her plans, although she knows more softball is in her future.

"I might go to a school and help coach if they have a veterinary program," Myers said. "Or I might go overseas to play.

"I've always wanted to play in the Olympics, too. I really just don't know at this point."

MORE SOFTBALL: Dawn Wallace (Dunedin) closed her senior year at the University of Tampa leading the team in hits with 46 and coming in second in hitting (.315). Serving as captain her last year, the catcher was named to the All-Sunshine State Conference second team and the All-South Region second team.

Stetson senior pitcher Kelli Lightner (Clearwater)was named first team All-Trans America Athletic Conference. Lightner completed her career ranked among the school's all-time leaders in wins, innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts. Lightner was only the fourth Hatter to record 400 career strikeouts.

TENNIS: Marci Malanik (St. Petersburg) completed her junior year at Lees-McRae College (N.C.) with an 8-2 conference record and 13-5 overall, fourth best on the team for the Division II school. Senior Mike Narutowitc (Seminole) was 9-0 in the conference and 13-5 overall.

Mike Murray (Thom Howard) completed his second year at Wake Forest with a 5-3 singles record in the No. 2 position. He was 18-20 overall. The rising junior was runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference Singles Flight.

Nadim Nasser (East Lake) scored the only point for USF in its 4-1 loss to Tulane. The freshman was 8-7 in overall singles play, including a win over Clearwater's Reinaldo Valor at N.C. State in the first match of the season.

BASEBALL: A contingent of Pinellas players are making a name for themselves in minor league baseball. Left-hander Ryan Snare (East Lake/UNC) was the Midwest League's first Pitcher of the Week after he went 1-1 in three starts with 24 strikeouts for the Class A Dayton Dragons. Snare was named to the all-star squad but was injured and did not play. Matt Bowser (Tarpon Springs/UCF) is eighth in hitting in the Class A California League with a .370 average and 41 RBI. Bowser, in his first year with the Visalia Oaks in the Oakland A's system, was named to the all-star team. In his first game in the New York Mets organization, Joe Jiannetti (St. Petersburg/Daytona Beach CC) had two hits, scored a run and drove in one for the Kingsport Mets in the Rookie Advanced Appalachia League.

Boof Bonser (Gibbs) has 79 strikeouts in less than 60 innings for the Hagerstown Suns in the Class A South Atlantic League. Bonser is 6-2 with a 2.38 ERA with the Giants organization.

Since moving up to the Class AA Orlando Rays this month, Ed Kofler (Tarpon Springs) is 2-3 with a 6.44 ERA. Also playing Class AA ball is Chris Heintz (Countryside/USF) with the Birmingham Barons in the Southern League. Catching for the White Sox affiliate, Heintz is hitting .202 on 18 hits, including two home runs.

Kris Wilson (Tarpon Springs/Georgia Tech) is 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA with the Class AAA Omaha Golden Spikes in the Pacific Coast League.

TRACK: Marissa Kyne (Seminole) received the Coach's Award at College Misericordia in Dallas, Pa. Kyne also earned All-Academic status in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference.

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