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Fall frosh

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Former CMHS softball standout and current JU freshman faces UF in fall softball exhibition game

By Sean Arnold

The bats swing year-round these days, whether it’s high school travel ball, off-season training leagues or even the most elite pros sharpening their skills in Arizona.

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It’s no different for the bevy of talent that the Chiefland Middle High School softball program has exported the last couple of years, as five players from last year’s Lady Indians club recently got their first taste of college ball.

At the University of Florida’s Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Friday Nov. 17, around 45 Chiefland faithful were in attendance to welcome Jacksonville University freshman catcher Emily Hallman, a four-year standout for the Lady Indians, who was part of three state championships and another state finals club.

The Gators, who boast three NCAA championship appearances and two national championships over the past four years, were led in the circle by reigning Collegiate Player of the Year Kelly Barnhill. The exhibition games are set for 10 innings. Stats and results are not official.

Hallman is behind a pair of seniors on the depth chart, but saw action in the eight-game fall exhibition schedule, which included a home date against the College of Central Florida, the new home of fellow Chiefland standout Takiya London. The UF game marked the finale of the mini-season.

Hallman attempted a stolen base and caught an inning behind the dish against the Gators.

Hallman said when she arrived in Jacksonville it took a moment to adjust to balancing college ball with a seven-course schedule and her ROTC demands. She’ll go on active duty for a stint in the summer with a week apiece in subs, ships and air, followed by Officer Candidates School. She plans to commission in the Marine Corps when she graduates from JU.

“I was overwhelmed the first couple of weeks, but I’ve gotten more comfortable with my schedule – I’m not sleep-deprived,” Hallman said. “Softball-wise, I feel like I’m coming around. We have some new things I’m going to start doing, hoping to add some flare to my game.”

If you’re looking to see some of the former Lady Indians in action in the regular season, there are a few dates to mark on the calendar. With a roster that includes former Chiefland ace Lauren Stalvey as well as former Lady Indians Lauren Parker and Sydney Parks, State College of Florida (Bradenton) will be in Gainesville Feb. 10 for a double header against Santa Fe College. The SCF trio then play a doubleheader in Ocala Feb. 13 against London’s CF Patriots. That latter game will feature four former CMHS players, each of whom were key starters on three state championship teams. Stalvey and London were named to All-American teams and each won Florida Player of the Year honors.

Parks’ older brother, Cole Parks, plays baseball at Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach.

Hallman’s Dolphins, meanwhile, will return to UF March 30 and March 31 to face the Gators.

In addition to those five, former Chiefland star and Florida Player of the Year Brittany Gilliam is in her senior season at North Georgia, and Lady Indians outfielder and slugger Samantha Rolfe is a freshman player at Webber International in Babson Park. Gilliam transferred from SCF, a two-year junior college.