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Icons of softball back home: Sweatt, Agurkis coaching local youngsters

Randy Lefko
Sports Editor
Posted 6/6/24

ORANGE PARK - As one of the best 1-2 power punches in Florida softball during historic state championship runs from 2016 through 2019 with a state title in 2017, state runner-ups and Final Fours …

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Icons of softball back home: Sweatt, Agurkis coaching local youngsters


Posted

ORANGE PARK - As one of the best 1-2 power punches in Florida softball during historic state championship runs from 2016 through 2019 with a state title in 2017, state runner-ups and Final Fours while at Oakleaf High School, two key figures in the process were pitcher Kelsey Sweatt and catcher Angela Agurkis.

Now, after highly acclaimed collegiate careers, both are back to offer their championship pedigree and skill sets to area youth softball hopefuls.
"I think Clay County is one of the best softball areas in Florida and, I may be biased, but I wanted to come back and give back to the community that put me in this situation since I was probably five years old," said Agurkis, now the Ridgeview High head softball coach with a deep region run in her rookie season and a late season flurry that ended with a walk-off homer loss to Middleburg in the district championship game. "The softball community here is special."
Agurkis is now offering private lessons in her craft with catching cages in her backyard and in area fields.
"Thus far, I've just been getting word-of-mouth clients and it is spreading more and more," said Agurkis, who has a range of six to 14-year-old athletes. "Coaching at Ridgeview gets the word out as well."
Agurkis said she relates her history to the athletes that it started at six years old with her hitting coach.
"I started as young as they are and I think I know what it does to kids as far as social skills and skills beyond softball," said Agurkis (inquiries to angelaagurkis8@gmail.com). "I think when I became a catcher, that really opened up my outward approach to playing because I had to be the leader of the defense and it transferred into my life to take control of things and even have the courage to become a coach."
Sweatt, who has enthusiastically named her clinics the K-Zone Athletic Academy (found on Facebook), brings a wealth of championship pitching expertise to her coaching, but also a hiatus from her sport that moved her to return to what she truly loved.
"After I graduated from West Florida, I had a master's degree in Health Care Management and went through a period of maybe three years of a coaching year with the University of North Florida then a career shift away from softball to my degree, but through the whole period, I missed softball, plain and simple," said Sweatt, an NCAA Div. II All American while at West Florida. "I questioned what was my plan and I prayed about what I really wanted to do with my life and I chose softball. I did not like not being a softball player after 20 years to it is just done."
After high school, the dynamic pair went two different paths; Sweatt to the University of West Florida where she accumulated a bucket load of pitching awards and a selection to the Gulf South Conference All-Decade softball team, and Agurkis to a season at Florida Atlantic University then a transfer to join Sweatt at West Florida where she was one of the more prolific hitters for the Argonauts who were an annual NCAA Division II powerhouse through the 2020-2022 seasons that featured the Oakleaf duo, plus Oakleaf shortstop Mika Garcia.
The popularity of softball combined with the passion of the two athletes is what both are hoping will network their crafts out to better the next round of great players in area high schools.
"God gave me a sign when I woke up one morning with 13 texts on my phone asking about coaching kids who were talking about me at a local tournament," said Sweatt. "The crazy part was that 13 was my jersey number for my whole career. That was my sign."
Sweatt, who created the LLC K-Zone recently noted she started with those 13 and has grown to more than 50 athletes.
"I would in the future like to have my own building with a selection of softball opportunities for area athletes," said Sweatt, who noted a six-year-old in her clinic up to high school. "I would love to maybe bring in players like Angela and Morgan Kendrick (CHS pitcher/FSU/Georgia Southern), who also has a clinic starting. The area has been full of great athletes and we should return to the community at some point."
For both players, the passion to play and learn has been the driving force.
"A lot of the kids want to learn and they watch players like Baylee Goddard and Katie Kistler (both seniors at the University of Florida and Oakleaf graduates) hitting a home run for the Gators and I can say we were teammates," said Sweatt. "Angela and I have played as teammates from nine years old to being teammates at West Florida."

2019 25-5 lost 7-6 8A semifinal..

2018 30-3 lost 1-0 to Hagerty 8A . agurkis senior catcher

2017 31-2 won 8A 6-1 over Wellington

sweatt senior 31-2 agurkis junior ,438 bA..

2016 region finals 27-3. lost 8A to Strawberry Crest 6-4

West Florida

2022

30-15 lost in the Gulf South tournament to #2 Valdosta State

third in UWF career K per game 6.76
* Third in UWF career history in strikeouts per game (6.76)
* Fourth in UWF history in career no-hitters (3)
* Fifth in UWF career history in fewest hits per game (4.96)
* Fifth in UWF career history in strikeouts (497)
* Sixth in UWF career history in winning percentage (.778)
* Ninth in UWF career history in innings pitched (516.1)
* Tenth in UWF career history in wins (55)
D2CCA Second Team All-South Region
First Team All-Gulf South Conference
2022 GSC Spring All-Academic Team
2022 Easton NFCA Scholar-Athlete2022 GSC Spring Academic Honor Roll
GSC Pitcher of the Week (4/19; 4/26)
Member of the GSC Softball All-Decade Team

agurkis senior 2022..played 20-21-22,,2019 FAU started 21 games..
Led the Oakleaf HS to the Class 8A State Title in 2017... Runner-up Class 8A State Title in 2018... Named to First Team All-State in 2017 and 2018... Rewarded with First Team All-County honors after junior and senior seasons... Made First Team All-Conference in 2017 and 2018... 2017 Kissimmee Klassic Offensive MVP... Christina Thompson was the head softball coach at Oakleaf High School.
2022 (Sr): Made 27 starts and played in 33 games as a senior... Set career highs in runs (15), hits (17), doubles (7), home runs (3), and walks (17)... Had a career-high 4 RBIs against Christian Brothers on 3/6, when she hit her third home run of the season... Hit her first round-tripper of the year and her first career grand slam against West Georgia (2/19), with another 4-RBI game... Picked up 5 multi-hit games in the season... Had a pair of doubles in a win over Florida Tech early in the season (2/13)... Hit .409 in February, going 9-for-22 with 9 runs scored, 7 RBIs, 5 doubles, a home run, and 8 walks.