FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University's Cheyenne Jenks beat out nine other softball players to win the final roster spot on the Chicago Bandits on Sunday, May 24.
Jenks is just the second Eagle to play professional softball. Carmen Paez (Belle Glade, Fla.) played for the New England Riptide in 2008, where she hit .218 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 78 at-bats.
After a defensive session of pop-ups to the outfield, each player got their chance to take cuts against assistant coach Shane Winkler and Mickey Dean, the head coach of the Bandits, the defending champions of the National Pro Fastpitch League. Jenks sent three of her first five balls deep over the left field fence, and followed it up with similar numbers in her following two attempts.
Jenks, a two-sport star from Naples High and Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, hit 23 home runs, second in the NCAA rankings, and was fourth in batting average at .473. Jenks also knocked in 73 runs to lead the A-Sun, and tie her own A-Sun single-season record.
“I’m excited to get playing and to get in a Bandits (uniform)” Jenks said following the tryout. “It’d be nice to get a rookie of the year award even if it’s not me, as long as we keep it in the Bandits circle. If it’s me, cool. I’ve always heard that the Bandits have a really good fan following. I’m glad to be a part of it now.”
The tryouts included several drills, beginning with a speed test where the hopefuls ran from home to first, home to second and finally, home to home. Jenks, who also starred in volleyball at FGCU, made it to first with a time of 2.84 seconds, and from home to home in 11.6 seconds.
"It feels good,” Jenks said. “I got invited to play with the Philadelphia Force, but I chose to come try out for the Bandits instead because of the area, they won the championship last year, and I wanted to play for the Bandits.”
The Bandits' season starts Wednesday, June 3, and goes through the third week in August.