Local alumni are tearing up the collegiate sports scene.
Spring sports are in full swing, which means it is an excellent time to check on our local alumni making it big at the collegiate level.
Of the three seasons, the spring season might be our area's best, in terms of producing talent. It was difficult narrowing it down, so there are definitely deserving performances that I didn't have space to include. That's always the case, and it's a good problem to have. It means this area is seeing as much success as ever.
Former Sailors baseball catcher Ben McCabe has followed up his strong freshman campaign at Central Florida with an even stronger start to his sophomore one. In 11 games, McCabe is hitting .303 with two home runs, two doubles, four walks and four RBI. He also threw out his first runner of the year on March 1 in a 6-4 home win against Cal State Northridge. The Knights (11-2) are ranked 14th in the country per D1 Baseball, in no small part because of the performance of their catcher.
At Stetson, former Riverview slugger Mark Townsend is finding success. The sophomore outfielder is hitting .231, but already has eight RBIs in 10 games. Townsend had 12 RBIs in 51 games as a freshman, so he’s well on his way to outpace himself in 2020. His slugging percentage has also increased, from .323 in 2019 to .436 this season.
After two seasons at Chipola College, former Sailors star Alex Arauz transferred to Florida Atlantic. The increase in competition has not prevented Arauz, a catcher/infielder, from smashing the ball. He’s hitting .240 with two home runs and seven RBIs in eight games. Expect those numbers to increase as Arauz gets more comfortable with this level of pitching.
Former Cardinal Mooney star Taylor Garris is ending his Stamford career with a bang. Through 11 games, the senior outfielder is hitting .333 with a home run, five doubles and six RBIs.
On the softball diamond, former Sarasota High star Alexis Johns is raking at Florida International. The sophomore outfielder is hitting .400 — tops on the team — with a home run, a double and three RBIs in 13 games. Johns also has six stolen bases; she has yet to be caught. Johns made the All-Conference USA Freshman Team in 2019, and this year looks to be taking another step in her development.
Former Riverview softball star Devyn Flaherty is making an impact at Florida State as a freshman. She has started 15 of the Seminoles’ 17 games and is hitting .302, fourth on the team, with three home runs and 11 RBIs. Flaherty is also five for five in attempted steals.
And on the track, former Sarasota state champion Ben Hartvigsen, a freshman at Harvard (or a “first-year,” as they say there) set a personal best time in the 3,000-meter run (8:23.56) at the Valentine Invitational on Feb. 15 in Boston.