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Changeup benefits Immokalee pitcher Ava Nunez

Immokalee High School starting pitcher Ava Nunez delivers a pitch against Fort Myers in a regional quarterfinal game May 6, 2021, at Fort Myers High School. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

Ava Nunez expanded her pitching options this season as the Immokalee High School junior worked a changeup into her repertoire.

“She grew a lot,” said Immokalee softball coach Ruben Lucio. “She’s always been a power pitcher.”

During the season, Nunez, the only Seminole on this year’s team, started throwing off-speed pitches in addition to her usual heat.

“She’s got a great changeup. It changes the way [she] can attack certain lineups,” Lucio said.

Nunez averaged one strikeout per inning as she finished with 87 Ks in as many innings. She fanned a season-high 13 against Clewiston and 11 in a regular season game against Barron Collier.

It was in a critical postseason game against Barron Collier that Nunez shined the brightest. She allowed just three hits, no earned runs and struck out six in six innings as Immokalee edged Barron Collier 1-0 in a district semifinal April 27.

The victory sealed a spot in the regional tournament for Immokalee and ended Barron Collier’s season.

Nunez finished with a 2.27 ERA and 10-8 record. She faced some of the toughest teams in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, including Class 6A state champion Doral Academy, and Westminster, which reached the Class 3A state semifinals.

Nunez played third base when she wasn’t pitching.

Offensively, she batted .266 with five doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs. Lucio said Nunez battled a couple injuries that impacted her batting.

Immokalee, which finished with a 17-12 record, should be back in the hunt for a district title next season. The team loses only two seniors from this year’s squad and will return 12 players with varsity experience.

Ava Nunez at the plate in a regional playoff game against Fort Myers on May 6, 2021. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Ava Nunez, third from left, and her Immokalee teammates get ready to face Fort Myers in a playoff game.
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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