While at Westfield, Francesca “Frankie” Martinez always had dreams of playing softball in the SEC, often catching Florida games on TV and being amazed by the high-level talent and atmosphere of “Gator Nation.”
But the path to reaching her goal seemed to be marred with obstacles. Martinez suffered a season-ending injury during her senior year at Westfield and a tough freshman experience at Radford ended with her transferring to Daytona State Junior College.
Last week, the up-and-down journey reached its fulfillment when Martinez signed to play at Florida for the final two years of her college career. The sophomore shortstop/outfielder caught the Gator coaches’ eyes during a fall scrimmage. After visiting the Gainesville campus and batting .376 with seven home runs, seven triples and 19 stolen bases for Daytona State this spring, Martinez inked her future at Florida.
“It’s a dream come true to play in the SEC,” Martinez said. “The game will obviously be a lot quicker and the competition will be incredible, but I feel like I have really good speed, which Florida likes.”
Known for her quickness along the base paths, Martinez twice earned All-Met honorable mention honors as a catcher before a broken forearm forced her to switch positions.
At Radford, Martinez played outfield but after realizing the campus and university weren’t a good fit for her, she transferred south to Daytona State for a year of junior college.
During her time in south Florida, Martinez has developed her skills at shortstop while using her speed to enhance her offensive game and force opponents into throwing errors during steal attempts. Now, she hopes the lessons learned during her journey will yield more success for a top-five program like Florida.
“I’ve learned to follow your dreams no matter what happens or what people say to try and discourage you,” Martinez said. “If you just keep practicing hard and putting everything you have into your goals, you’ll get there, and it’s really exciting to see all the hard work pay off and reach my dream of playing in the SEC.”
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