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College reunion

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CMHS trio return to area as college teammates

By Sean Arnold

There are more than a handful of ballplayers from Chiefland and Cedar Key playing college softball this spring.

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Three of them – former Lady Indians Lauren Stalvey, Lauren Parker and Sydney Parks – are wearing the same uniform again, reunited at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota in Bradenton. Stalvey is a sophomore pitcher, Parker is a freshman first baseman and Parks is a freshman second baseman. The trio were each three-time state champions at CMHS.

On Feb. 10, the trio enjoyed what felt like a homecoming, playing in front of family and Chiefland supporters for a doubleheader in north Gainesville against Santa Fe College.

Stalvey started in the circle in the first game and picked up a win in 4.2 innings of work, allowing two walks, five hits and just one earned run. The sophomore gave up the run in the first before settling in for her strongest statistical outing on the season.

Stalvey’s ERA on the season dropped to 3.07 over 13 ⅔ innings. At Chiefland, she was the ace pitcher for three state championship clubs.

Stalvey says she’s a lot more comfortable in her second year.

“It’s a lot different, I kind of know a little more of what to expect,” she said. “Coming into it from high school, it was a lot different. Everybody you face in the lineup is going to be good.”

She’s also excited about being a part of an improved team this season. The Manatees moved their overall record to 10-2 with the wins in Gainesville.

In that 4-1 SCF win, Parks and Parker scored runs, making it likely the most Chiefland college softball game ever.

Parker added a double and a walk in the second game, helping the club to a 7-2 win.

Parker and Parks said the pitching speeds they’ve faced aren’t much different from high school, but the spin on pitches – the movement – are more effective. They mostly play doubleheaders to cut down on travel, so it’s been a challenge building up their stamina. Having their high school teammates around has made the transition easier.

“It makes it easier,” Parker said. “It’s funny, other players are like, ‘Oh look, the whole Chiefland crew is here.’”

“If you get homesick, you can just go to one of them,” said Parks, who used to watcher her brother Cole play at Santa Fe. “It’s basically home (at Santa Fe). I like playing here a lot.”

Stalvey welcomes the familiar company.

“It makes it more fun, having people you know,” she said.

The Lady Manatees were in Ocala Tuesday, Feb. 13, where they faced fellow former Indian Takiya London and her College of Central Florida squad. London, a freshman shortstop, entered that doubleheader with a .412 batting average, 25 runs, 19 RBI and a pair of home runs.

Both Stalvey and London collected All-State Player of the Year honors and were MaxPreps All-Americans in 2016.

Another former teammate of the bunch, Brittany Gilliam, who helped lead Chiefland to its first state title in 2014, has a pair of home runs and a .480 slugging percentages through 11 games for the North Georgia Nighthawks. Samantha Rolfe, who was with Parks and Parker on four state finalist teams at Chiefland, started her freshman season Tuesday at Webber International.

Meanwhile, Ashlyn Allen, a 2017 Cedar Key graduate and freshman pitcher at St. Petersburg College, has started the season 3 for 6 with a triple and double, and made her debut pitching appearance against London’s Lady Patriots.

In baseball, former Chiefland ace and 2016 graduate Trevor Castell has claimed a pair of wins on the mound for Florida Southern College.