Mexicano drafted in third round to Akron Racers, will sign on after 2008 season



By Meghan Montemurro

Many kids dream of someday having the opportunity to play a professional sport. For Angelena Mexicano, her childhood dream came true on Monday, when the shortstop was drafted in the third round of the National Pro Fastpitch by the Akron Racers.

“When I was younger I always wanted to play professional ball, and now that it’s actually here and actually happening, it’s amazing and just the unthinkable for me,” Mexicano said of being drafted.

The senior from San Jose, Calif., is the third Illini to play softball professionally, joining former first baseman Jenna Hall, a member of the Philadelphia Force, and Lindsey Hamma, who plays shortstop for the Chicago Bandits. Mexicano received word of the honor on Monday from head coach Terri Sullivan and quickly contacted her family to tell them the good news.

“I’m very excited for Angelena because she loves to play the game,” Sullivan said of Mexicano. “She will play it for as long as she possibly can, and she will always work hard. She will represent Illinois softball so well because of her enthusiasm and work ethic.”

Since Mexicano is still an active member of the team and a student at the University, she is unable to officially sign with the Racers until the completion of the 2008 college season, due to NCAA regulations.

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In her fourth year as a starter for the Orange and Blue, Mexicano has already left a mark on Illinois’ career records. Her 30 home runs rank second all-time, while her 109 RBIs are good for fifth place. Mexicano’s .272 career batting average, .510 slugging percentage, .875 stolen base percentage and 32 doubles are all top 10 in their respective categories in the program’s history.

“Offense, obviously I think a lot of teams look at, and when you look at Angelena she hits for power, she hits for average, she runs well; she’s really the complete offensive package,” Sullivan said. “Defensively, she makes some plays that most shortstops can’t make, and she has great arm strength at the six-hole.

Last season Mexicano, and fellow senior Shanna Diller, set a new Illinois single-season home run record after each belted 16 long balls.

Of the 24 selections, three were from the Big Ten, including Mexicano.

“Angelena has some big shoes to fill with the loss of Kristin Johnson, but I believe she has the quickness and the glove skills to be successful at the pro level,” Joey Arrietta, president and general manager of the Akron Racers, said in a press release. “Offensively, she fits perfectly into the Racers’ run-and-gun offense.”