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Team Zerkle Selects Rachel Garcia No. 1 in Opening AU Draft

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Rachel Garcia was the No. 1 overall pick in the Week 1 draft for the 2022 Athletes Unlimited championship season, while reigning champion Aleshia Ocasio and newly-crowned AUX champion Danielle O’Toole will team up for the opening weekend of games in Rosemont, Illinois. 

With no set rosters, AU will hold drafts prior to each of five weeks of play en route to crowning an individual champion. For Week 1, Ocasio, Amanda Chidester, Carrie Eberle and Morgan Zerkle serve as captains as the four leading returning scorers from 2021. 

A top-10 finisher in every AU softball competition to date, Zerkle selected Garcia with the No. 1 overall pick in Monday’s draft. The two-time national college player of the year at UCLA and an Olympian, Garcia made her professional debut earlier this summer in AUX – the new condensed competition in San Diego that preceded the championship season. After a rocky first few innings in the circle, Garcia pitched and slugged her way to a breakout second-place finish. 

After Eberle and Chidester selected rookie catcher Mia Davison and middle infielder Anissa Urtez with the second and third picks, respectively, Ocasio completed the first round by selecting AUX champion and fellow pitcher Danielle O’Toole.

With 2020 AU champion Cat Osterman retired, Ocasio and O’Toole are the only active players to win any AU competition. 

O’Toole led AUX with a 1.69 ERA in 28 innings, winning a title race against Garcia and Dejah Mulipola that came down to the final game. She will team with Ocasio, who cruised to the 2021 AU title with a 2.32 ERA that is best among returning pitchers from that five-week season. 

With the draft order reversing in each round, Ocasio selected catcher Gwen Svekis with first pick of the second round. Svekis caught almost every inning for both Osterman in her 2020 title season and Ocasio in her title run a season ago. 

Rounding out the second round with a slew of Olympic veterans, Team Chidester selected outfielder Haylie McCleney, Team Eberle selected middle infielder Hannah Flippen and Team Zerkle selected catcher Dejah Mulipola. 

Other highlights included: 

  • Sisters Sierra and Sydney Romero went off the board in the third round, Sydney with the ninth overall pick to Team Zerkle and Sierra with the 11th overall pick to Team Chidester. 
  • The highest-ranked returning player who wasn’t a captain, Sahvanna Jaquish was the 17th overall pick, leading off the fifth round to Team Zerkle. Jaquish finished seventh in 2021 and has an AU-record 13 home runs in 86 career at-bats. 
  • A 2022 college draftee, Davidson was the first true rookie off the board after wowing observers with her power display in the past weekend’s preseason scrimmages. 
  • Fellow true rookies Janae Jefferson and Peyton St. George went with back-to-back picks in the fourth round to Team Ocasio and Team Chidester, respectively. 

The four leading scorers in Week 1 will serve as captains and draft teams for Week 2. 

Below are the full rosters, schedule and broadcast details for Week 1. As a reminder, players do not have to play the position at which they were drafted.

Team Ocasio (Gold)

  • Aleshia Ocasio, P
  • Danielle O’Toole, P
  • Sara Groenewegen, P
  • Maggie Balint, P
  • Gwen Svekis, C
  • Sashel Palacios, C
  • Nadia Taylor, CI
  • Tori Vidales, CI
  • Danielle Gibson, CI
  • Sis Bates, MI
  • Janae Jefferson, MI
  • Abby Ramirez, MI
  • Amanda Lorenz, OF
  • Shannon Rhodes, OF
  • Rachel Lewis, OF

Team Chidester (Orange)

  • Peyton St. George, P
  • Sydney Littlejohn-Watkins, P
  • Danielle Watson, P
  • Mariah Mazon, P
  • Erika Piancastelli, C
  • Jordan Roberts, C
  • Amanda Chidester, CI
  • Aly Harrell, CI
  • Sydney Sherrill, CI
  • Anissa Urtez, MI
  • Sierra Romero, MI
  • Aubrey Leach, MI
  • Haylie McCleney, OF
  • Bubba Nickles, OF
  • Aliyah Andrews, OF

Team Eberle (Blue)

  • Carrie Eberle, P
  • Haylie Wagner, P
  • Odicci Alexander, P
  • Greta Cecchetti, P
  • Mia Davidson, C
  • Taylor Edwards, C
  • Sam Fischer, CI
  • Alysen Febrey, CI
  • DJ Sanders, CI
  • Hannah Flippen, MI
  • Kelsey Harshman, MI
  • Rylee Bayless, MI
  • Victoria Hayward, OF
  • Jazmyn Jackson, OF
  • Kiki Stokes-O’Connor, OF

Team Zerkle (Purple)

  • Rachel Garcia, P
  • Taylor McQuillin, P
  • Shannon Saile, P
  • Alyssa Denham, P
  • Dejah Mulipola, C
  • Sahvanna Jaquish, C
  • Andrea Filler, MI
  • Caleigh Clifton, MI
  • Sydney Romero, MI
  • Lilli Piper, CI
  • Courtney Gano, CI
  • Hayley Busby, CI
  • Morgan Zerkle, OF
  • Megan Wiggins, OF
  • Nicole Rangel-Mendes, OF

Week 1 Draft Results

Round One

  • Zerkle: Rachel Garcia, P
  • Eberle: Mia Davidson, C
  • Chidester: Anissa Urtez, MI
  • Ocasio: Danielle O’Toole, P

Round Two

  • Ocasio: Gwen Svekis, C
  • Chidester: Haylie McCleney, OF
  • Eberle: Hannah Flippen, MI
  • Zerkle: Dejah Mulipola, C

Round Three

  • Zerkle: Sydney Romero, MI
  • Eberle: Haylie Wagner, P
  • Chidester: Sierra Romero, MI
  • Ocasio: Amanda Lorenz, OF

Round Four

  • Ocasio: Janae Jefferson, MI
  • Chidester: Peyton St. George, P
  • Eberle: Victoria Hayward, OF
  • Zerkle: Taylor McQuillin, P

Round Five

  • Zerkle: Sahvanna Jaquish, C
  • Eberle: Sam Fischer, CI
  • Chidester: Erika Piancastelli, C
  • Ocasio: Sis Bates, MI

Round Six

  • Ocasio: Sara Groenewegen, P
  • Chidester: Sydney Littlejohn-Watkins, P
  • Eberle: Odicci Alexander, P
  • Zerkle: Megan Wiggins, OF

Round Seven

  • Zerkle: Shannon Saile, P
  • Eberle: Jazmyn Jackson, OF
  • Chidester: Bubba Nickles, OF
  • Ocasio: Nadia Taylor, CI

Round Eight

  • Ocasio, Tori Vidales, CI
  • Chidester: Danielle Watson, P
  • Eberle: Alysen Febrey, CI
  • Zerkle: Alyssa Denham, P

Round Nine

  • Zerkle; Andrea Filler, MI
  • Eberle: Taylor Edwards, C
  • Chidester: Aliyah Andrews, OF
  • Ocasio: Shannon Rhodes, OF

Round 10

  • Ocasio; Sashel Palacios, C
  • Chidester: Aubrey Leach, MI
  • Eberle: Kiki Stokes-O’Connor, OF
  • Zerkle: Caleigh Clifton, MI

Round 11

  • Zerkle: Lilli Piper, CI
  • Eberle: Kelsey Harshman, MI
  • Chidester: Mariah Mazon, P
  • Ocasio: Danielle Gibson, CI

Round 12

  • Ocasio: Rachel Lewis, OF
  • Chidester: Aly Harrell, CI
  • Eberle: DJ Sanders, CI
  • Zerkle: Courtney Gano, CI

Round 13

  • Zerkle: Hayley Busby, CI
  • Eberle: Greta Cecchetti, P
  • Chidester: Jordan Roberts, C
  • Ocasio: Abby Ramirez, MI

Round 14

  • Ocasio: Maggie Balint, P
  • Chidester: Sydney Sherrill, CI
  • Eberle: Rylee Bayless, MI
  • Zerkle: Nicole Rangel-Mendes, OF

Week 1 Schedule

Friday, July 29

  • Team Eberle vs. Team Chidester, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
  • Team Ocasio vs. Team Zerkle, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Saturday, July 30

  • Team Zerkle vs. Team Chidester, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
  • Team Ocasio vs. Team Eberle, 9 p.m ET, ESPN+

Sunday, July 31

  • Team Zerkle vs. Team Eberle, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
  • Team Ocasio vs. Team Chidester, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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