Only two weeks earlier, she had been in Puerto Rico with no idea what her next chapter would be. Yet on this hot afternoon in late August, Gabby Andino was moving her stuff into an apartment in Jacksonville, where she'd be attending Florida State College.
A new town. A new life. No familiar faces.
Well, except one. From across the complex parking lot, Terrell Joyce walked over with a stunned look on his face. He had no idea she was coming there. She had completely forgotten he was already there.
That's how Gabby Andino and Terrell Joyce, Woodside Class of 2010, learned they would be neighbors. She needed a fresh start for her softball career. He was coming back for his second season on the baseball team, which he led in just about every category the previous spring.
"I was so happy to see him," Andino said. "It's always good to have somebody from home. I didn't have that last year."
The best of friends since the 7th grade, they're inseparable again. They go to each other's games and hang out when schedules allow. They come from the same town, and they know what the other wants — since they both want the same thing, which is success.
Andino, who enrolled at Tallahassee Community College in 2010 but never played, is starting in right field for FSC. As the No. 2 hitter, she's batting .450 (58-for-129) with a home run and 33 RBI. She's scored 37 runs in 41 games for the Stars, who are ranked 14th in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll.
After batting .355 as a freshman, Joyce is now at .456 (41-for-90) with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 26 games. He's such a tough out that opponents have tried a reverse David Ortiz shift on him. To little avail.
"It's great we're both doing so well," Joyce said. "It's worked out really well."
Two years ago, Andino and Joyce finished their outstanding careers at Woodside and graduated. As a senior, Andino went 17-5 on the mound and hit .610 (her coach, Mike Tallon, is no stad-padder) as the Wolverines' leadoff batter. Joyce hit .517 (that's also legit) with 10 home runs with 44 RBI in 60 at bats.
Upon graduation, Andino was off to Tallahassee CC, which she hoped would be a stepping stone to Florida State University. But things didn't work out in softball, so she never played.
"It just wasn't a good fit," she said. "So I took off a year and just went to school."
As a freshman, Joyce led FSC in batting average (.355), home runs (five), and RBI (28). That summer, in 37 games with the Peninsula Pilots, Joyce batted .283 with 22 extra-base hits against Division I pitchers in a wooden bat league.
Andino's summer was spent in Puerto Rico, her parents' native land, where she played in a softball league. She wanted to play college ball … but where?
"I wanted to go to another (junior college) because I wasn't ready to go to a (bigger) school," she said. "And I wanted to say in Florida, so I basically e-mailed a lot of schools and coaches."
Things didn't become official with Florida State College until just before fall semester began, which is why Andino had to hit the ground running. Stars coach Jami Lind told Andino she'd have to walk on. Maybe, if things go well, she could eventually earn a scholarship.
Things went well quickly. Lind told Andino two weeks into the fall that she'd go on scholarship when the second semester began.
As a pitcher at Woodside, Andino had won 57 of 68 decisions with a sub-1.00 ERA. But at FSC, she's playing primarily right field. The position was completely new to her, and it took some adjusting.
"I remember one of the first games: I wasn't paying attention and the ball got smoked over my head," she said. "It was probably my most embarrassing moment ever. I looked like a 3-year-old out there running every which away. She ended up with a triple.