On top of her game

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Former Lady Indian star Takiya London is thriving as CF shortstop

By Sean Arnold

Takiya London is having a better freshman college season than her senior season at Chiefland Middle High School.


Not that there was anything particularly wrong with the latter. London, a shortstop, batted .411 with three home runs to help lead the Lady Indians to their fourth straight state finals appearance.

But the former Chiefland volleyball and basketball standout has a renewed focus at College of Central Florida, where she has transitioned comfortably to the competition under the tutelage of Kevin Fagan.

Her power was on full display during a home doubleheader against St. Petersburg College Feb. 15, when she went 5 for 7 and belted her third home run of the season in the Lady Patriots’ two-game sweep. She laced another pitch over the fence that hugged the third-base line but was called foul.

“I thought it was fair,” she said.” It’s where it passes the pole, not where it lands.”

London is batting .422 with four home runs. She’s also been stout in the field, turning three double plays one recent weekend.

“I think it’s just going from what I knew in high school to what I know now,” London said. “Coach Fagan is a really good coach, just the little tips on stuff. He’s here everyday, all day. He’s like (Chiefland coach) Mr. Jimmy (Anderson) with the fields, as soon as the sun comes up.”

London says she’s practicing more patience at the plate.

“It’s just more waiting on the ball,” the freshman said. “I have to carry around this silver box at practice to prevent me from diving in, and (Fagan) throws me a lot of change-ups to help me stay back.”

Fagan, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers, led Dunnellon to a pair of state championships as coach of the Lady Tigers.

The Lady Patriots were 16-4 overall heading into their doubleheader at Hillsborough Community College Feb. 22.

London appreciates being close enough to Chiefland to be able to still do her laundry at home. She’s enjoying her new teammates as well. London and former Fort White pitcher Morgan Cushman are the only Lady Patriots from a small rural school.

“Most of them don’t even know about (Class) 1A,” London said. “One girl, our catcher, she’s from like 9A. They’re pretty cool though, I’m glad i got to meet them.

“I’m glad I went from Chiefland to here before I went to a bigger school, to kind of get into it.”

The 6-foot-2 shortstop likes being part of a self-motivated group.

“I think it’s just the energy (that I like the most),” said London, who is starting to consider transfer destinations from the junior college. “You know in high school you’ve got a couple girls who are on the team just to be on the team. Here, you just grind all practice – everybody wants to play, everybody wants to hit, everybody knows what to do. It’s not as much teaching, you’re just building.

“We’re hyped on game days, but we’re dreading practice.”