Dunnellon softball star Cameron Fagan will face Gators this weekend in NCAA Super Regionals

John Patton
Special to the Star-Banner
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Dunnellon's #97 Cameron Fagan throws to first in the bottom of the fifth inning against Belleview in the finals of the MCIAC softball tournament. The Tigers beat the Rattlers 4-2, at Belleview High School, in Belleview, Florida, April 20, 2017.

As a child, Virginia Tech second baseman Cameron Fagan used to attend every home softball game when her sisters, Sami and Kasey, played for the Florida softball team.

Cameron was a huge fan and often thought maybe she would be a Gator one day.

But two incidents changed that.

Prior to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, UF coach Tim Walton indefinitely suspended Kasey, Sami and then-teammate Cheyenne Coyle because of what the Fagan’s father, Kevin, called “an altercation on the team.”

Remember when? Cameron Fagan was Star-Banner softball player of the year

Some history between them:Tim Walton apologizes for incident with Auburn player

All three players transferred (Kasey to Auburn, Sami to Missouri and Coyle to Arizona State). Then, in March 2017, when their third sister, Haley, was playing for Auburn, she and Walton had a televised spat in the post-series handshake line.

Walton tweeted about the incident a day later, specifically apologizing to Haley for his role in the altercation. But Cameron said he did not reach out to the family to discuss the matter.

“We have not spoken with him,” said Cameron, who added the issues with her sisters made it so she “never considered” UF (which also elected not to recruit her) when she was an All-American shortstop at Dunnellon High School. “But we try not to let what happened with him affect us. ... All of my family has moved on.”

So does this weekend — with No. 14 seed UF (46-16) visiting No. 3 Virginia Tech (45-8) in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional with the winner advancing to the College World Series — have added significance because of the family history?

“Of course, in some way,” Fagan said. 

Cameron Fagan hitting .358 for Hokies

Virginia Tech infielder Cameron Fagan (97) during a softball game against Michigan State on Feb. 12 in Leesburg.

But more than anything, her focus is on the Hokies and what it will take to win a national championship. No matter how the Hokies do, Fagan likely will play a major role.

A sophomore, Fagan bats leadoff and is hitting .358 with a team-high 63 runs scored. She and Mackenzie Lawter are the only two Hokies to start at least 52 games this season.

Fagan also has a knack for being at her best in big games, having hit .417 in last season’s regional in Tempe, Arizona, and then, last weekend, with her team needing to take two straight from visiting Kentucky, she smashed a three-run homer in Game 1.

“My favorite home run I’ve ever hit,” Fagan said.

She’s thrived this season after a position change. In her freshman year, Fagan was sidelined with painful stress reactions in both shins. The first doctor she visited said Fagan needed to shut down her season. A second opinion suggested a three-week rest, and she selected that option.

She returned for workouts just before the Notre Dame series that began April 23, but something wasn’t right.

“They put me at short, and I struggled because I hadn’t practiced,” Fagan said.

She added that Kelsey Bennett had played well in her absence. So, Fagan moved to third base and started 13 games.

Freshman third baseman Bre Peck joined the team this season, and wanting his best possible lineup on the field, coach Pete D’Amour suggested Fagan give second base a try. “I didn’t care,” Fagan said. “I just wanted to play.”

Fagan said the switch to fielding on the other side of the diamond wasn’t all that difficult but said situational things like when she needed to cover the bag were adjustments. It has worked out well, as Fagan has just six errors this season.

The Hokies have rolled, too.

Virginia Tech enters Friday’s start of the Super Regional having won 14-of-16, and after No. 2 Florida State was eliminated by Mississippi State last weekend, the Hokies are the highest seed remaining behind No. 1 Oklahoma (52-2).

Hokies star having fun trash-talking with UF's Jay Fraziars

Cameron Fagan, then an incoming senior at Dunnellon High School, was the 2019 Ocala Star Banner's Softball Player of the Year.

In the meantime, Fagan has had some fun leading up to the Super Regional matchup with at least one Gator this week.

Florida sophomore wide receiver Jay Fraziars was a classmate of Fagan’s at Dunnellon. Fagan was a three-time Star-Banner Player of the Year (no award was presented when she was a senior because COVID-19 cancelled the season after just a few games).

When both were seniors, Fraziars said one of his favorite high school athletes to watch in any sport was Fagan.

After UF and Virginia Tech advanced last weekend, the trash-talking texts began.

“Jay and I are still best friends,” said Fagan, who added with a laugh that Fraziars has done most of the yapping. “He’s said stuff like ‘I’ll root for you, but not your team.’”

Fagan is fine with working to half-disappoint him.

“This season has been so great,” Fagan said. “And nothing was more enjoyable than winning the region, especially how we won it. I want it to keep going.”

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