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Kiauna Martin to train with Softball Factory at College World Series

kiauna 1PLANTATION — At 15 years old, Kiauna Martin has the makings of a softball superstar. A multi-talented player, she was invited to try out for the competitive Under Armour Softball Factory College World Series Select Training in January, and she made the cut.

The tryout drew about 35 players; only six were chosen.

Martin will now attend a four-day program at Oklahoma City University from May 29 to June 1, where she will train with and be evaluated by top college coaches. She will learn how to navigate the college recruitment process and possibly be chosen for the Softball Factory World Series and Fall Classic events later this year and next.

“I’ll work with them for a couple of years,” said Martin, who has played softball since age 5. “Our travel team plays in showcase tournaments where college coaches come to watch. They sent me an invitation to try out.”

A junior varsity player for American Heritage School, the ninth-grader also plays on the varsity team at the coach’s request.

“She won her first championship with a Tribal team when she was 8,” said Ruggy Jumper, Martin’s grandfather. “She plays all positions and her coaches want her to be part of the varsity team, but they use her sparingly. This is very exciting for her.”

To qualify for the College World Series Select Training tryouts, players must show potential to play college ball. The Softball Factory program aims to help these players receive the best academic opportunities.

“Kiauna has a lot of potential,” said Christian Culicerto, regional player development coordinator for Softball Factory. “Her ability will probably make her eligible for the World Series this summer, but roster spots are limited. Our process is to get the girls into the best training environment so they are best prepared to do well in front of coaches at tournaments, showcases and the Softball Factory teams.”

The college recruitment process starts early for softball; 2016 college classes are filling up with high school sophomores now. The training program, which takes place during the Women’s NCAA College World Series, will allow players to see firsthand what it takes to play college softball.

Martin’s coach at American Heritage was pleased with her selection for the Softball Factory program.

“She is a talented player and very versatile,” said coach Marty Cooper. “She can bat righty and lefty, she is fast, has a strong arm and plays good defense. And she is very coachable.”

Culicerto said players need to get in front of college coaches as soon as possible.

“There is no doubt Kiauna can play after high school,” he said. “We are here to give the players tools and guidance. But getting that education and degree to help them through life is the most important thing. We want the players and their families to do what’s best for them.”

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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