In a year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic wipe out softball seasons ranging from high school to NCAA to the pro's (and let's not forget the Olympics), this summer in Florida proved to be a very welcome respite for softball players and fans yearning for action on the field.
“A miracle happened this summer,” FGCL Executive Director Ryan Moore told Extra Inning Softball today, “and that’s exactly what took place in that we were able to organize the league and get it done. Without the support of the local officials and the State of Florida this doesn’t happen and I have to give the county officials credit too; they worked hard to get softball and baseball in and get life back to normal.”
The Florida Gulf Coast League (FGCL) wrapped up its successful inaugural summer softball season last week with the Myakka City River Mocs exciting 10-9 victory over the Manatee Squeeze in the championship game at the Lakewood Ranch Sports Complex.
Georgia Southern University catcher Allyssah Mullis drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the bottom of the sixth and finished the game 2-for-3 with four RBI.
Not surprisingly, the Mocs captured many of the top honors awarded by the league.
FGCL Coach of the Year Michaela Transue led the River Mocs to a 21-2 record this season, while league Most Valuable Player Mack Leonard (Illinois State) and Offensive Player of the Year Lizzie Shubert (Stetson) helped power her lineup.
Congrats to Coach Transue's double achievements this summer:
To the victors go the spoils (or sweet rings, in this case!):
More on, and from, League MVP Mack Leonard:
𝐀 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐅𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞@mackleonard31's summer softball experience is coming to a close with @FGCLsoftball and @River_MocSB. Check out what she had to say in her final blog ⤵️https://t.co/WK9NRtL2Ot
𝐀 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐅𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞@mackleonard31's summer softball experience is coming to a close with @FGCLsoftball and @River_MocSB. Check out what she had to say in her final blog ⤵️https://t.co/WK9NRtL2Ot— Illinois State Softball (@RedbirdsSB) July 24, 2020
Another member of the Mocs team, Truett McConnell pitcher Karley Hobbs, was selected as the FGCL’s Breakthrough Athlete.
The other honorees:
- For the league runner-up Squeeze, Washington infielder Stormy Kotzelnick earned Rookie of the Year.
- The Slice had Shannon Saile (Oklahoma) and Kinsey Goelz (Florida) recognized with the Pitcher of the Year and Humanitarian Award, respectively.
- The Lynx’s Haley Lee (Texas A&M) earned the Defensive Player of the Year nod.
- The Pioneers’ Megan Pierro (South Florida) scored the People’s Choice award in the season-ending honors.
Hobbs, Kotzelnick, Lee, Leonard, Mullis, Saile and Shubert were also members of the 19-player All-Star squad that took on the USSSA Pride in an exhibition series on July 22-24 at USSSA Space Coast Stadium.
Other members of the All-Star Team were:
- Maddi Banks (Virginia Tech/Slice)
- Gabby Benson (Georgia State/River Mocs)
- Nikki Cuchran (Northwestern/Squeeze)
- Devyn Flaherty (Florida State/Lynx)
- Taylor Gilmore (Colorado State/Pioneers)
- Neleigh Herring (Wichita State/Slice)
- Jensen Howell (Northwestern State/Impact)
- Jenny Jansen (Southern Illinois/River Mocs)
- Sarah Longley (Florida/Fastpitch U)
- Riley Ludlam (Furman/Slice)
- Breanna Roper (Georgia Tech/Slice)
- Kenna Wilkey (Northwestern/Squeeze)
Games for the seven league teams during the five-week season were held at either Palma Sola Park or the Lakewood Ranch Sports Complex.
More than 90 players represented 56 schools and all divisions of collegiate softball, and provided some live softball competition for the players after their 2020 school seasons were cancelled.
The live stream of the championship game garnered 3,000 views online.
Executive Director Moore said the first year was successful because of the people involved.
“I was amazed at how good the coaches were and how extremely close and tight these teams became,” he added. “These players came from all over the country and to watch them gel and come together, I was thrilled at how that transpired. The coaches were excellent, the talent level was good and the league will continue to attract players from all over and the players learned a lot about themselves.”
The FGCL leader says this season was only the beginning.
“The entire experience was amazing and we will be expanding, to be announced in the fall.” Moore concluded. “We have plans to work with more sponsors and fund-raising and to grow, learning from our efforts this year. The USSSA Pride has invited us back next year for some bigger and better things and hopefully we can announce in the next month or two.”
Finally, you gotta love this… a young fan got to interact during the All-Star Game with one of her softball idols and has a souvenir she'll likely treasure for a long time!
Very proud of Stormy, never live bigger than the game. This 10yr old, called Stormy over during the game, and asked for an autograph. Makes a momma proud!!!! pic.twitter.com/XxZGbeLht5
Very proud of Stormy, never live bigger than the game. This 10yr old, called Stormy over during the game, and asked for an autograph. Makes a momma proud!!!! pic.twitter.com/XxZGbeLht5— Kathy Kotzelnick (@KKotzelnick) July 23, 2020