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Mack Leonard Bet On Herself With Florida State Transfer

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(Photo by Florida State Athletics)

One of the biggest moves of the past offseason was Mack Leonard's to Tallahassee, Fla. Her decision to transfer from Illinois State to Florida State delighted Seminoles fans, who knew they were about to get one of college softball's hidden gems on their side.

Leonard, who spent three years with the Redbirds and has two seasons of NCAA eligibility remaining, proved to be one of the top two-way talents in the country over the past few seasons. In 2021, she ranked 27th in the nation in on-base percentage at .532 and 34th in batting average with a .425 clip. To boot, she posted a team-leading 18 multi-hit and 10 multi-RBI games, while reaching base in each of the last 26 contests of the season. Leonard also gives the Seminoles another option in the circle, as she posted a record of 11-4 with a 3.33 ERA and nine complete games last year.

"I expect her to contribute to the best of her multiple skill sets," Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda told Softball America. "As with most rookies in our program, whether you’re a freshman or a transfer, the growth part of your first year is pretty cool to watch and see."

For Leonard, the decision to transfer was not an easy one, as she is the daughter of two former Illinois State varsity athletes—her mother played softball for the Redbirds, while her father was a track and field athlete. Her sister, Machayla, even competed for Illinois State in volleyball.

But when the time came for Leonard to decide what she wanted to do with her final two years of college softball eligibility, she knew she had to follow her own path.

"I wanted to bet on myself," Leonard told Softball America. "I didn't know where I would end up."

After entering the transfer portal following the 2021 college softball season, Leonard was bombarded with phone calls, emails and text messages from college coaches wanting to pursue her and add her undeniable talent to their teams. But Alameda and her coaching staff, who led Florida State to a runner-up finish at the 2021 Women's College World Series, made an immediate impact on Leonard and ultimately won the bidding war for her.

And while Leonard may not get as much pitching time with the Seminoles as she did with the Redbirds in past seasons, that doesn't mean she should expect her playing time to dwindle in 2022. Leonard knows her most valuable asset to the Seminoles, who struggled offensively at times during the 2021 campaign.

"My bat, for sure," said Leonard, who could see time in the outfield and at first base this season. "I know that I will try to hopefully be in the lineup because hitting is what they want for me to do."

And for the former All-Missouri Valley Conference first-team selection, who finished in the top five in the MVC in all major statistical categories last year, answering that call is her top priority in 2022 and beyond.

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