This weekend marks the start of the college softball season for a few players from the Seminole Tribe.
Ahnie Jumper (Florida Gulf Coast University), Cheyenne Nunez (University of South Carolina Upstate) and Jillian Rodriguez (Tennessee State University) are playing NCAA Division I softball.
Jumper, a catcher from the Big Cypress Reservation, is back for her third season with FGCU, which opens Feb. 7 in the FGCU Kickoff Classic with home games in Fort Myers against Delaware (6 p.m.) and Boston College (8:15 p.m.).
Among the highlights on the FGCU schedule are games against preseason top 25 teams Arkansas (Feb. 14, Feb. 16 in Fort Myers) and Florida (March 4 in Gainesville).
Jumper was behind the plate in 48 games last season. She threw out two runners on attempted steals in a win against Indiana. She batted .182 with four hits, including a double, and two RBI in 22 at-bats. She also scored six runs.
Prior to attending FGCU, Jumper played on state championship teams at American Heritage in Plantation.
FGCU is coming off a 29-22 season. The Eagles finished third in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Dave Deiros, the only head coach in the program’s history, is back for his 18th season at the helm.
Nunez, an outfielder from the Brighton Reservation, is in her first season with USC Upstate, which opens Feb. 8 in the Upstate Classic with home games against Bucknell and Towson.
USC Upstate will make one regular season appearance in Florida on March 11 with a doubleheader against Stetson in DeLand. A visit to Athens, Georgia, comes March 25 against the Georgia Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 15 in the preseason poll.
Nunez, a 2016 Okeechobee High School graduate, played the past two seasons at State College of Florida in Bradenton, where she set the school record for most stolen bases (38) in a season last year. She batted over .360 in both seasons. She earned First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-State honors and was named the college’s 2018-19 Female Athlete of the Year.
USC Upstate is coming off a 41-15 season and a runner-up finish in the Big South Conference.
Rodriguez, who graduated from Immokalee High School in 2019, begins her college career Feb. 8 as Tennessee State faces North Alabama and Alcorn State in the UNA Softball Invitational in Florence, Alabama.
Rodriguez, an outfielder, is one of seven freshmen on the squad. In 2019, Rodriguez and her younger sister Ava Nunez helped Immokalee win its first-ever district championship.
Tennessee State went 13-29 last season. The team returns its top six hitters from a year ago. Some non-conference foes include Memphis, Mississippi State, Purdue, Syracuse and Tulsa.