By Kyle LoJacono
Stephanie Frances’ power is something that can’t be ignored by opponents, and it is also a big reason why the Sunlake softball player signed with Jacksonville University Nov. 15.
Frances, who will play first base for the Dolphins, is second all-time with seven home runs for the sixth-year program and is just three from surpassing the record owned by Samantha Dittman.
“The last couple of seasons she’s always been the one to make the big play,” said Seahawks coach Jami Finan. “The power alone is big, but then her play in the infield is solid as well.”
Frances hit .563 last year with 34 RBI, 29 runs, 11 doubles and six home runs while slugging 1.000. She said power has always been a part of her game since picking up the sport at age 7.
“I was never the fastest kid,” Frances said. “Hitting was always my thing.”
Being such a hitting threat comes with one set of frustrations. The opposition rarely gives Frances a good pitch to hit, but she takes the treatment as a compliment.
“It’s definitely flattering,” Frances said. “Every time you go up you want to hit the ball, but to see a team pitching around you or a coach telling his players to back up is a good feeling.”
Frances, who plans to study sports management, said she liked everything about Jacksonville when she visited.
“It’s a great school all around, and then their softball team has done some tremendous things the past few years,” Frances said. “The coaching staff is phenomenal, and they made me feel like part of the family.”
Jacksonville, which went 31-25 last year, is a Division I program in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Frances said the chance to play in college is “the greatest opportunity” of her life.
“My parents said school comes first, and if softball is that ticket to get it paid for, then that’s a bonus,” Frances said. “To be able to not only go to a good school and have it paid for, and then play a sport that I love is really awesome.”
Finan said the Dolphins are getting “the whole package” in Frances.
“She’s a hard worker and very dedicated,” Finan said. “She’s committed to academics. She’s a leader on the field. … She will be missed after this season.”
—Follow Kyle LoJacono on Twitter: @Kyle_Laker