As good as it gets
News-Gazette Photo/Andrew Sullivan Harmony’s Lele Ocasio led the Lady Longhorns to three regional titles and finished her career with 11 school records.
Horns Ocasio is one of the best ever
By Rick Pedone
Very few athletes left a legacy at her school like Harmony softball sensation Aleisha “Lele” Ocasio has.
Twice the School District of Osceola County’s Female Athlete of the Year, Ocasio is the Osceola News-Gazette’s Softball Player of the Year for the second straight season after once again leading the Lady Longhorns to the Class 7A state tournament.
She holds 11 school records. Her uniform No. 4 was retired after the season and she recently signed a scholarship to the University of Florida, the 2014 NCAA College World Series champion.
At a high school that has produced a remarkable number of excellent female athletes – Genesis Viera, Marie Gilbert, Kendall Pollock, Sage Leffew, Julia Ingler, Lauren Harris, Kaley Ward and Rebekah Fitzpatrick, to name only a few – Ocasio’s career might possibly have been the best.
Her confidence radiated throughout a very good Harmony program over the past four years. Her teammates believed that as long as Ocasio was on the field, they could win.
“She’s phenomenal,” Harmony Athletic Director Chuck Hitt said. “She can do it all. I can’t remember seeing another softball player with her natural ability.”
After a 24-2 season, a 0.60 ERA and 250 strikeouts, Ocasio is regarded as one of the Florida’s best high school pitchers. She strung together 32 scoreless innings in the district and regional playoffs, and she surrendered only one earned run through the postseason.
And, get this: pitcher isn’t her best position.
She was signed to UF as a position player.
“She is a tremendous athlete and is very versatile on the field. She’s one of the best best players in the state. This is a great addition to our program,” Gators Coach Tim Walton said.
Ocasio played shortstop during her freshman and sophomore years, quickly displaying college-level range and throwing ability.
At the plate, Ocasio is almost impossible to throw out if she gets the ball on the ground toward the third base side. Batting from the left side, she gets down the baseline in less than three seconds.
She led the Longhorns this season with a .432 batting average, seven home runs and 32 RBIs. She had 15 steals.
“What I want to know is what happened to your batting average, you slumped all the way down into the .400s this year,” Osceola School District Coordinator of Athletics Ryan Adams joked at the School District Sports Awards banquet in May when he presented Ocasio with her Female Athlete of the Year award.
She is the only female to win the award, which was started in 2013.
“It’s amazing to win it again. There are a lot of great athletes here, so to be selected two times, that makes it special,” she said.
Ocasio batted .507 during her junior year and had a 17-3 record and 0.42 ERA on the mound.
She holds Harmony softball career records for batting average (.417), plate appearances (389), at-bats (310), runs (144), triples (12), walks (67), stolen bases (93), total wins (50), lowest ERA (0.61), strikeouts (492) and winning percentage (.877).
“Lele was outstanding, just like she has been during her whole career here,” Longhorns Coach Jeff Fiorelli said. “I’m confident that she is going to be a very successful player at Florida, because she is a tremendous player and a great teammate.”
The only regret that Ocasio has about her remarkable high school career is that Harmony didn’t win the softball state championship. It was the runner-up in 2011 and in 2014 and it reached the semifinals in 2013.
She said she will miss her teammates because she thinks of them as a part of her family.
“I’m very thankful that they were there to support me. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without their help,” she said. “The seniors feel like we started a great tradition at Harmony and because there are so many good players coming back that this program is going to be good for a long time.”