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Santiago follows family pipeline to P.R. school

Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Ken Jackson
Sports Editor

Liane Santiago is going home, and heading to go to school with family.

Santiago, a pitcher and infielder for Coach George Coffey’s Osceola High softball team, has signed a scholarship to play in her hometown of Ponce, Puerto Rico for Pontifico Catholic University.

News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock
Liane Santiago helped pitch and hit the Kowboys back to the regional playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Her sister, Lianese, who preceded her at Osceola then when to PCU, is a catcher for the Catholic-based school.

“That’s exciting, the idea of playing with her again,” Liane said.

That may have had a hand in the school extending the only college offer she said she received.

Submitted Photo
Osceola High pitcher Liane Santiago (in hat sitting fourth from left) recently signed a scholarship offer to play collegiately at Pontifico Catholic University in her native Puerto Rico. There she will met up with her sister Lianese, a catcher for the team.

“One is better than zero I guess,” Santiago said. “I had accepted that I wasn’t going to play in college, but in the end God had a plan for me. I’m excited for what this will bring for me.”

In her recently-completed senior season, Santiago split time in the pitching circle with sophomore Shelby Jones for the Kowboys as a senior this year that went 19-7, but they often split innings in each game to give opposing lineups a different look after one or two times through the order, Coffey said.

“They are two completely different pitchers, so to get hitters off balance midway through the game was a benefit to us,” he said. “She has the drive to do what she wants, and she will be comfortable there with her family around her. She’ll be able to help that team right away and have an impact, including offensively. She’ll get more of a chance to hit there than she did here because of the makeup of our team.”

When not pitching she played the infield last season, just like in her final game, a loss in the Class 9A regional quarterfinal playoffs against Oviedo. She started at first base and came in to pitch in the fourth inning when the Kowboys fell behind.

Her last OHS at-bat was a thing of determination and defiance — facing the end of the game in the fifth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule, uncharacteristic for Osceola, Santiago drilled a two-out, two-run home run to left field, her first of the year and the second of her OHS career.

“She hit one in her first at-bat as a freshman, the last at-bat as a senior, and didn’t have one in between,” Coffey said, finding something to smile about in an otherwise downer of a 14-3 defeat.

“I just didn’t want the season to end,” Santiago said with a smile following the game, which ended with her standing in the on-deck circle in the seventh with runners on base.

With her high-school career now in the rear-view mirror, Santiago is focused on moving her life back to Puerto Rico and becoming a competitive college-level pitcher.

“They have a couple of good pitchers, but I feel like I can come in and help out right away,” she said.