UF commit is Gatorade state player of year
Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.
The Fagan family softball dynasty was further solidified Thursday when Dunnellon High School senior Sami Fagan was named the Gatorade Florida Softball Player of the Year.
The shortstop follows sister Kasey Fagan, a two-time winner of the award who just completed her freshman season at the University of Florida. Sami, who will join Kasey on the Gator roster next season, also becomes eligible for the national honor her sister won last year when the voting process concludes later this month.
“It was a surprise because I didn't know (I was nominated),” Sami said after hearing the news. “It feels good. I put a lot of hard work in, and to get rewarded for that is an honor.”
Sami hit .693 with four triples, 51 runs scored, 17 RBIs and 28 stolen bases as a senior. The 2010 ESPN Rise All-American posted a state-record 63-game hit streak during her sophomore and junior seasons and batted .629 with 234 runs scored and 141 stolen bases over her prep career.
Her father and coach, Kevin Fagan, says the unassuming Sami begged him not to nominate her for the prestigious award, but his wife, Nancy, insisted.
“She's uncomfortable with any kind of accolades,” said Kevin, who returned home Thursday after watching Kasey in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. “Sami's definitely the hardest worker in our family. She works every day for hours and hours. She's put a lot of time into perfecting her craft.”
The Gatorade criteria includes academics, where Sami has also thrived, maintaining a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. In fact, she's never received a grade other than an ‘A' during her four years at Dunnellon High School.
Sami has spent the last several days watching the Gators' runner-up finish in this year's WCWS and is anxious to join her sister — whom she was helping move Thursday afternoon — in Gainesville next season.
“It was nerve-racking to be honest,” Sami said. “It was hard to watch because I was so nervous and I wanted them to win so bad.
“It feels like I'm already part of the team. Kasey tells me a lot of stories, and she has a great time up there. I'm really excited to go up there.”
Kevin, who recently stepped down as Dunnellon's softball coach after collecting back-to-back state titles in 2009-10, acknowledges that Sami possesses all the physical tools to be a top-shelf athlete, but insists it's her mental approach that puts in her in a special class.
“She always attacks the game,” Kevin said. “You always want your players dissecting the game — putting the pieces of the puzzle together — and she does that. She's the first one back in the dugout telling her teammates how the pitcher is attacking left-handed hitters and what her best pitch is.
“I think, besides her athleticism, she's just a smart, savvy player that constantly works on figuring out how to beat the opponent.”