FORT MYERS — The Florida Gulf Coast University softball team picked up an international victory thanks in part to a squeeze bunt from Ahnie Jumper.
FGCU emerged from its exhibition game against Team Japan with a 7-5 win Feb. 16 , but the Eagles needed a late-inning rally.
FGCU trailed the No. 2 ranked team in the world 4-3 in the fifth when Jumper, of the Big Cypress Reservation, laid down the bunt that brought home Diane Servideo to ignite a four-run rally in the seesaw affair that featured a few lead changes.
This is Jumper’s second season with the team. Last year she was a backup third baseman, but this season she has returned to behind the plate, a spot she occupied for most of her high school career at American Heritage.
“I feel like a veteran now that I’m catching this year,” Jumper said. “I feel more at home coming back to catching. It was all natural; I just needed a little touch up here and there.”
During pregame warmups, Jumper said she and her teammates were excited to play Team Japan.
“It is a great opportunity to play someone of that caliber,” Jumper said. “We expect to bring the same energy we bring to every game.”
Prior to playing FGCU, Team Japan defeated the University of South Florida and the University of Florida. The Japanese Women’s National Team won the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is ranked second behind Team USA in the World Baseball Softball Confederation rankings. The team also won a silver medal at the WBSC 2018 Softball World Championships.
FGCU coach David Deiros has led the Eagles to a 617-318-3 record in his 17 years at the helm.
“Our kids played as well toe-to-toe with the second best team in the world so I can’t be more proud of them,” Deiros said after the win. “It was a great experience and the turnout we had was fantastic for this community to see that kind of softball being played.”
FGCU is usually in the upper echelon of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Eagles have won three regular season conference titles. They reached the NCAA Division I tournament a few years ago. Deiros said he expects another strong season this year and he’s been pleased with Jumper’s work behind the plate.
“We are a good team and we plan to be in the mix in our conference,” he said. “Ahnie has done a really good job and having her defensive skills behind the plate is a plus. She understands the game and has a good head for the game. Everyone feeds off her confidence.”
Jumper, a sophomore, lives off campus with a couple of her teammates and is studying elementary education. She is taking teaching classes and has observed at the Ahfachkee School in Big Cypress. Her goal is to someday teach there.
“I like to give back,” she said.