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Meet FGCU Eagles softball outfielder Riley Oakes

Get to know your Eagles. Each week, the Naples Daily News will profile a member of the FGCU athletics program to introduce fans to the players and coaches representing the Blue and Green during the 2024 season.

Riley Oakes is a graduate centerfielder for the Florida Gulf Coast softball team. The Oviedo native spent two seasons at Radford (Va.) before transferring to FGCU as a junior. This season, she has a .333 hitting percentage with 23 runs and 21 RBI, while recording 84 putouts on 89 chances during the game on May 9. Naples daily news sat down with Oakes to find out more about her.

Q: Why did you end up at FGCU when you were going through the transfer process?

Oak: I transferred from Radford University in Virginia and realized I wanted to be closer to home. I’m from Orlando, Florida and I really liked that my parents could come to almost every home game compared to when I was further away. And I just really fell in love with the coaching staff here and the way DD (head coach David Deiros) conducted his practices and what he was like as a coach.

What are some challenges you have overcome since coming to Fort Myers?

Oak: I think most of it for me was academically – I had a lot of trouble transferring my credits and keeping the same major. I had to change my major (to health sciences) because I realized that my major from my previous college was a little different with the classes I had taken, and I wouldn’t have graduated on time. So I ended up changing majors when I came here, but I ended up falling in love with the major I switched to.

What are some things you enjoy being a student-athlete at FGCU?

Oak: I like the dynamics we have here in the team. I think from my last university to here things are so much different, like our team is so much closer. We have many more resources for school here at FGCU. He, along with DD, stepped right in and taught me honestly for every science class I’ve taken since I’ve been here. And I’ve never seen a coach do that before. He really pushes you hard, both on the field and in the classroom.

What advice would you give to the new Eagles?

Oak: I would probably say: get to know DD, because he comes across as very harsh, but he has a soft spot for all his athletes. Take the time to go to his office and get to know him as a person. Because once you do that, you will excel so much more here and build a great relationship with him both on and off the field.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before the game?

Oak: So I think the closest thing to that is me refusing to step on the line in the outfield. And I get all my outfielders involved when we do our warm-ups. Like I’m yelling at them not to put their foot on the line because I feel like it’s bad luck.

Do you have a favorite professional athlete or team?

Oak: Growing up, my favorite professional athlete was Jennie Finch. (I was attracted by) her determination both on and off the field. I follow her on all aspects of social media. And she just preaches a lot about her faith and how it carries on on the field and in the pre-game rituals and stuff.

Favorite place to eat near campus?

Oak: I love Olive Garden. I am obsessed with their breadsticks and salad. That definitely fills me up before I even order my food.

What is your favorite pregame music?

Oak: My whole team makes fun of me because I like listening to EDM music. So I only occasionally get the option to plug my phone into the AUX because they don’t like EDM music. But there are a few on the team that will let me take full advantage of getting them pumped up. But that’s like my choice of music, but we’ll play a lot of throwbacks and just a lot of new ones, like hit songs in a dressing room.