HAMLET — The Gulf Coast of Florida will soon be Jenna Greene’s home and playing field for a chunk of the summer months.
The Richmond County native and current Presbyterian College freshman softball player will head south later this month to play in the Florida Gulf Coast Summer League.
A developmental league made up of college players from top conferences around the country and incoming freshmen, Greene will be competing for the Manatee Squeeze and head coach Mario Hernandez (Jacksonville University).
The FGCL, which is based around the Bradenton area, is a non-profit summer league with six softball teams and 10 baseball programs. Florida has essentially re-opened itself in the midst the COVID-19 pandemic and Greene said her coaches noted “the season is going to happen.”
Greene’s orientation will begin on June 14, followed by a mini camp June 15-17. Opening day is set for June 18 and will run through most of July.
“I’m super excited,” Greene said of the upcoming experience. “The location is really nice. And to be able to play against girls from all divisions and conferences of softball, it’s a high level of play. That’s what I want.”
Earlier this spring, Abi Stuart, who is a catcher at Clemson, reached out to Greene explaining the Squeeze needed another pitcher. The pair have played travel softball together the last several years, and Greene said it seemed like a natural fit to join the team.
The Squeeze released its official roster last week, and joining Greene are several other Division I players. Among them are Stormy Kotzelnick (incoming freshman, Washington), Sommer Baker and Sara Berthiaume (Florida Atlantic), Paige Schindler and Jordyn Wolfe (Louisville), Nikki Cuchran and Kenna Wilkey (Northwestern), Melina Livingston (Penn State) and Taylor Johnston (Wisconsin).
Joining Greene on the pitching staff will be Schindler and Wilkey.
During her freshman season at Presbyterian, which was shortened to 24 games, Greene was in the national spotlight in several categories. She led the Blue Hose (16-8) in almost every major statistic, but was tied for second in all of Division I with 13 wins (15 appearances).
She was also tied for third in the country in total shutouts (six), and was tied for ninth in total strikeouts with 128 (8.3 punchouts per seven innings).
“My success at PC was from trying to prepare myself the summer before the best I could,” Greene explained. “There were a lot of unknowns, and I wondered if I would be one of the top pitchers or not. I got a lot of great experience playing against really good competition in tournaments in Colorado and California.
“When I got to school, being committed to putting in the extra time and really working on my game is what led me to success,” she added. “We had a really great season going and I hate the way it ended.”
The FGCL runs a 25-game softball season, and includes a playoff tournament and an all-star event. Games will be played during the day and at night, and featured playing locations include the Lakewood Ranch Complex, the Miss Sarasota Complex. Palma Sola Park, Madeira Beach and the State College of Florida.
Helping Hernandez with the coaching duties will be Carsyn Gordon, a former Florida State University player and a part of the 2018 national championship team. Greene said she’s excited to work with Gordon because she “has the experience, lots of knowledge and great stories” to share.
“I want to get better and learn some new things about pitching like pitch calling,” Greene said of what she hopes to achieve this summer. “I hope to learn a stronger knowledge of the game and make new friends and contacts.
“Playing with girls from all different conferences and teams will be super cool, and I hope to learn from each other this summer,” she closed. “I know we’ll be playing a lot of ball, we’ll be together all the time and I’m excited to get to know everyone better and take lots of trips to the beach.”
ROSports will update Greene’s journey in the FGCL this summer.