Devyn Flaherty jumped at the opportunity.
When the sports world shut down in mid-March, the Florida State softball player began thinking about the chance to get back on the field again. After months of running, hitting off a tee and playing wall ball, Flaherty is again playing softball this summer near her hometown, Sarasota, Fla.
“I’m so happy to be back on the field,” Flaherty said. “It’s been so long and just being able to face different pitchers, play different positions, be comfortable in certain situations … I just think it will be huge, growing to play different positions.”
Flaherty is playing for the Bradenton Lynx in the Florida Gulf Coast League, which opened play on Thursday night in Bradenton. The teams will play 25 games over the next month in a condensed schedule with just Wednesdays and Sundays off (some games will stream on LivePlaySports). A limited number of fans will be able to attend games, remaining socially distant.
“Twenty-five games is a lot to get in four and a half weeks so it’s going to be incredible to get all of that in and just grow with these girls,” Flaherty said.
Flaherty played in all 24 of FSU’s games as a freshman in 2020, starting 22, and hit .333 with three home runs, four doubles, three triples, 16 RBI and 17 runs scored. The capability to use her speed was evident as she racked up extra-base hits and also tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases.
When the games stopped, Flaherty focused on working out back home. She would hit off the tee and work on her fielding with wall-ball drills. Assistant coach Travis Wilson also encouraged the team’s conditioning by starting a running club, doing a timed mile and 10 K.
“It was really good,” Flaherty said. “It pushed us and a lot of the girls on the team because we couldn’t go to the gym and lift.”
Flaherty showed her versatility in the abbreviated 2020 season, starting at five positions: first base, second base, shortstop, right field and left field. This summer, she plans to see time at short but also expects to play other positions.
After a three-day minicamp, the season began on Thursday and there isn’t much of a break. But for Flaherty, it’s a chance to live at home with her family while competing against players from more than 50 Division I schools.
“The thing that I was really surprised about is the level of talent here,” Flaherty said. “There’s girls from Texas and California. The level I underrated a little bit. It’s going to be a really productive summer and a good chance for everyone to grow here.”