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Martin, Jumper conclude 14U season at California tournament

The No. 1 spot in the Gold Coast Hurricanes 14U batting order fluctuated among a few players, but before the Broward County-based fastpitch girls softball club finished its season in early August, Kiauna Martin had secured the leadoff job.

“Towards the end of the season, she took that spot with aggressiveness and base running and getting on base,” said Hurricanes coach Jorge Rodriguez, whose team played in its final tournament this summer at the ASA/USA National Championships in San Diego, California.

Martin and fellow Tribal member and teammate Ahnie Jumper finished their 14U careers with the Hurricanes. They will join the program’s 16U squad starting this fall.

The 14U Hurricanes earned the trip to the West Coast by winning a regional earlier in the season.

“This is the big tournament. All the top teams in the U.S. go to this tournament,” Rodriguez said.

Martin, an American Heritage School sophomore who has been a switch-hitter for the past few years, handled leadoff duties throughout the tournament that attracted more than 100 teams. It was her first time playing softball in California.

“I actually liked playing out there. Here, you play mostly the same teams over and over,” she said.

Martin’s contributions came at the plate, on the base paths and in center field. Rodriguez said Martin was effective reaching base by slap-hitting, a technique some batters use by getting a running start in the box as the pitch is delivered.

“She did a great job slapping from the left side. She was able to get on base 50 to 70 percent of the time,” Rodriguez said. “She’s one of our fastest players. She did very good, especially defensively in center field.”

The coach also praised Martin for “great leadership and attitude.”

Jumper, also a sophomore at Heritage, started some games at third base and also handled action behind the plate.

“She had an outstanding tournament,” Rodriguez said. “She was very hot offensively throughout the tournament.”

When runners were on base, Rodriguez knew he had a reliable bat to move them around with Jumper in the No. 5 spot.

“She’s a great contact hitter,” Rodriguez said.

The Hurricanes posted a 5-3 record, good enough for 25th place. Wins came against teams from California, Nebraska and Washington; losses came against California and Texas teams.

“We could have beat them,” Martin said. “We’re a comeback team. When we’re down, we don’t give up, but sometimes we wait too long.”

Although most of their trip was occupied by softball, the Hurricanes managed to squeeze in a couple touristy things, including tubing and a trip to LaJolla Beach, where they saw sea lions and killer whales in the Pacific Ocean, but didn’t swim.

“(The water) was freezing,” Martin said.

 

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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. He also worked for more than a decade in management and public relations for a hockey program in New England that produced several college and NHL players. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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