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Danielle O’Toole Goes No. 1 in Final AU Draft

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Danielle O’Toole started the summer as the inaugural AUX champion. Having already announced her impending retirement, she finishes the summer as the No. 1 pick in the final draft of the Athletes Unlimited championship season. 

But will O’Toole be able to propel either herself or team captain Haylie McCleney past overall leader Dejah Mulipola and other contenders for the AU title? 

In trying to sculpt the rosters that will determine a champion, the quartet of Week 5 captains leaned on pitching early in the final weekly draft. In addition to O’Toole at the top of the draft, Rachel Garcia went No. 2 to Team Denham and Taylor McQuillin went No. 4 to Team Mulipola. 

Only Team Chidester bucked the trend, as captain Amanda Chidester made her customary first-round pick of fiancee and reigning defensive player of the year Anissa Urtez. And even Chidester went with pitching in the second round, selecting rookie Mariah Mazon at No. 6.

Team Mulipola led off the second round by taking Hannah Flippen with the No. 5 pick, while Team Denham selected Amanda Lorenz at No. 7 and Team McCleney selected Peyton St. George at No. 8.  

Mulipola opted for familiarity. She also selected McQuillin early in the Week 4 draft, a somewhat surprising move looking purely at this season’s numbers. But her former Arizona teammate came through all weekend, most of all with four clutch relief innings to secure a win Sunday that ensured Mulipola entered this week with a cushion. Also returning from last week’s squad are pitchers Odicci Alexander and Shannon Saile, infielders Lilli Piper and Sydney Romero and outfielder Victoria Hayward.

While McCleney was surely motivated purely by taking the best pitcher on the board, a byproduct of her first pick is that it gives O’Toole her most viable path to doubling up her titles this summer. In order to move ahead of any captain who selected her, O’Toole would have to outscore that person solely in stat and MVP points – all players on a given team receive equal win points. But that’s easier for her to do with McCleney (a 90-point deficit) than it would be as Mulipola or Chidester’s teammate.

Entering Week 5, Mulipola leads Chidester by 98 points on the overall leaderboard, with Denham and McCleney tied for third, 146 points behind Mulipola. 

For context, Mulipola totaled at least 368 points in three of the first four weeks – and still managed 268 points in her lowest scoring week. Only two players, McCleney and Chidester, totaled at least 500 points in a week this season.

In other words, it isn’t impossible for one of the other captains to catch her – but it won’t be easy.

Here’s a look at other highlights from the Week 5 draft: 

  • Garcia, O’Toole and Urtez had the curious distinction of going in the first round of all five drafts this season. Curious not because they didn’t deserve the honor, but because as good as each of them was, none could quite climb high enough to be a captain herself. In stat points, Garcia ranks sixth, Urtez 10th and O’Toole 19th (with the league’s second-best ERA). 
  • Flippen went no lower than seventh in any draft this season. She enters Week 5 ranked seventh overall. But as the only player in the top 10 selected by Team Mulipola, she drew the short straw. It will be nearly impossible to make up a 264-point deficit solely through stat and MVP points. 
  • The league said the Aliyah Andrews was active with limitations after a collision Saturday. Team Mulipola selected Andrews in the 11th round. Mulipola also selected Courntey Gano in the final round, an automatic pick to fill a positional need. Gano is questionable for Week 5, leaving the leader’s team potentially shorthanded. 
  • A midseason injury replacement in AUX, Mariah Mazon climbed all the way to the second round and de facto ace status for Team Chidester in Week 5. She was an 11th round pick in the opening AU draft but climbed to the third and second rounds the final two weeks. She has a 4.27 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 21 innings. 
  • The Romero sisters finally reunite. Team Mulipola selected both sisters, Sydney in the fifth round and Sierra in the 12th round. It’s the first time they will play together since the first round of AUX games in June.
  • Team Mulipola also reunited the Edwards sisters, with Taylor Edwards sharing a dugout with  Tatum Edwards, the team’s facilitator. 
  • Team Chidester selected Sara Groenewegen with the 38th pick, although the Canadian will be unavailable for one game this weekend. Team Denham selected Aleshia Ocasio with the next pick in the 10th round, with the league classifying the reigning champion as available with limitations. 

Team Mulipola (Gold)

PlayerPositionAU RankStat Points
Taylor McQuillinP33116
Carrie EberleP15150
Shannon SaileP4654
Odicci AlexanderP2876
Dejah MulipolaC1482
Mia DavidsonC14314
Lilli PiperCI3696
Alysen FebreyCI5572
Courtney GanoCI5918
Hannah FlippenMI7298
Sydney RomeroMI21262
Sierra RomeroMI53128
Victoria HaywardOF13294
Morgan ZerkleOF34276
Aliyah AndrewsOF51120

Team Chidester (Orange)

PlayerPositionAU RankStat Points
Mariah MazonP37126
Haylie WagnerP4930
S. Littlejohn WatkinsP3286
Sara GroenewegenP52102
Taylor EdwardsC38226
Jordan RobertsC5760
Amanda ChidesterCI2384
Sydney SherrillCI4350
Hayley BusbyCI6076
Anissa UrtezMI8298
Kelsey HarshmanMI10294
Rylee BaylessMI4116
Bubba NicklesOF19274
Jazmyn JacksonOF24152
K. Stokes-O'ConnorOF2546

Team Denham (Blue)

PlayerPositionAU RankStat Points
Alyssa DenhamP3336
Rachel GarciaP26352
Aleshia OcasioP20266
Greta CecchettiP50-16
Sahvanna JaquishC6400
Gwen SvekisC29176
Tori VidalesCI23340
Danielle GibsonCI31136
DJ SandersCI16166
Aubrey LeachMI17200
Caleigh CliftonMI30166
Janae JeffersonMI44108
Amanda LorenzOF18286
Megan WigginsOF56110
Rachel LewisOF5444

Team McCleney (Purple)

PlayerPositionAU RankStat Points
Danielle O'TooleP5266
Peyton St. GeorgeP4770
Maggie BalintP394
Danielle WatsonP58-36
Erika PiancastelliC12272
Sashel PalaciosC40112
Sam FischerCI9194
Nadie TaylorCI3572
Aly HarrellCI4524
Sis BatesMI48104
Abby RamirezMI22100
Andrea FillerMI42152
Haylie McCleneyOF4356
Shannon RhodesOF11420
N. Rangel-MendesOF270

Draft Results

Round One

  • McCleney: Danielle O’Toole, P
  • Denham: Rachel Garcia, P
  • Chidester: Anissa Urtez,MI
  • Mulipola: Taylor McQuillin, P

Round Two

  • Mulipola: Hannah Flippen, MI
  • Chidester: Mariah Mazon, P
  • Denham: Amanda Lorenz, OF
  • McCleney: Peyton St. George, P

Round Three

  • McCleney: Erika Piancastelli, C
  • Denham: Sahvanna Jaquish, C
  • Chidester: Taylor Edwards, C
  • Mulipola: Victoria Hayward, OF

Round Four

  • Mulipola: Carrie Eberle, P
  • Chidester: Bubba Nickles, OF
  • Denham: Tori Vidales, CI
  • McCleney: Sam Fischer, CI

Round Five

  • McCleney: Shannon Rhodes, OF
  • Denham: Aubrey Leach, MI
  • Chidester: Kelsey Harshman, MI
  • Mulipola: Sydney Romero, MI

Round Six

  • Mulipola: Morgan Zerkle, OF
  • Chidester: Haylie Wagner, P
  • Denham: Caleigh Clifton, MI
  • McCleney: Sis Bates, MI

Round Seven

  • McCleney: Abby Ramirez, MI
  • Denham: Gwen Svekis, C
  • Chidester: Jazmyn Jackson, OF
  • Mulipola: Shannon Saile, P

Round Eight

  • Mulipola: Lilli Piper, CI
  • Chidester: Sydney Littlejohn Watkins, P
  • Denham: Megan Wiggins, OF
  • McCleney: Andrea Filler, MI

Round Nine

  • McCleney: Maggie Balint, P
  • Denham: DJ Sanders, OF
  • Chidester: Sydney Sherrill, CI
  • Mulipola: Mia Davidson, C

Round 10

  • Mulipola: Odicci Alexander, P
  • Chidester: Sara Groenewegen, P
  • Denham: Aleshia Ocasio, P
  • McCleney: Nadia Taylor, CI

Round 11

  • McCleney: Danielle Watson, P
  • Denham: Janae Jefferson, MI
  • Chidester: Hayley Busby, CI
  • Mulipola: Aliyah Andrews, OF

Round 12

  • Mulipola: Sierra Romero, MI
  • Chidester: Kiki Stokes-O’Connor, OF
  • Denham: Danielle Gibson, CI
  • McCleney: Aly Harrell, CI

Round 13

  • McCleney: Sashel Palacios, C
  • Denham: Rachel Lewis, OF
  • Chidester: Jordan Roberts, C
  • Mulipola: Alysen Febrey, CI

Round 14

  • Mulipola: Courtney Gano, CI
  • Chidester: Rylee Bayless, MI
  • Denham: Greta Cecchetti, P
  • McCleney: Nicole Rangel-Mendes, OF

Week 5 Schedule and Broadcast Info

Friday

  • Team Denham vs. Team Chidester, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
  • Team Mulipola vs. Team McCleney, 8 p.m ET, ESPN+

Saturday

  • Team McCleney vs. Team Chidester, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • Team Denham vs. Team Mulipola, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Sunday

  • Team McCleney vs. Team Denham, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+
  • Team Chidester vs. Team Mulipola, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
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