Three Lady Wildcats ink with area colleges
Cassville's Paighton Brock, Kelsey Baker and Emily Speakman will continue their softball careers at the collegiate level.
Lady Wildcats softball coach Ben Abramovitz couldn't contain his enthusiasm as he watched three of his five senior softball players sign national letters of intent.
"I am not sure we have ever had that many players sign from one team," said Abramovitz. "Each one of these girls worked hard to achieve this goal."
Brock signed with Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kan.
"I feel really excited about my choice," said Brock. "Softball has driven me to be better in school and overcome adversity I have faced in life."
Brock chose Fort Scott over York College in York, Neb.
"I visited both schools and felt like each would be a good fit," said Brock. "The deciding factor was that Fort Scott was closer to home."
Brock hit .295 for the Lady Wildcats this season with 23 hits, 16 RBIs and one home run.
"Paighton was the hardest working player on our team," said Abramovitz. "She showed up every day at practice wanting to get better and make softball work for her."
Brock stated that she loves every aspect of softball. Her favorite memory happened during her junior season.
"Every day in practice Kennadi Howard and I worked on turning a double play," recalled Brock. "We were playing Lamar when we finally turned the play. It was a great feeling."
Brock is undecided on a major. She did offer advice for younger players.
"Work hard every day," said Brock. "Never give up and love the game."
Brock is the daughter of Dede and Roger Brock, of Cassville.
Crowder College in Neosho will have a lot of local flavor for the Cassville faithful.
Crowder coach Lori Videmschek signed two players (Baker and Speakman) from the Lady Wildcats team.
"Every year Crowder hosts a high school tournament," said Videmschek. "I have watched these girls continue to grow and mature. We are excited to have them on campus."
Baker chose Crowder over Central Methodist University and William Woods University.
"It boiled down to the fact that I can play more softball and be closer to home," said Baker. "Once I finish at Crowder then I can look at other colleges."
It is Baker's upside that caught the attention of the Crowder staff.
"Kelsey has a tremendous amount of raw potential," said Videmschek. "I don't think she realizes how exciting a player she could be. We are looking forward to working with her. I can see Kelsey being our leadoff hitter."
Baker hit .418 this season for the black and gold. She collected 37 singles and had 12 RBIs.
"Kelsey went from someone who we just put in our lineup during her junior season to someone we counted on her senior year," said Abramovitz. "She dedicated herself to improving after her junior year. Her determination to improve is a testament to her character."
Baker plans to major in physical therapy.
"It takes hard work in order to succeed," said Baker. "You can't give up when things become difficult. You just have to work harder."
Baker is the daughter of Anita and Dennis Baker, of Cassville.
Collegiate softball wasn't on Speakman's radar at the conclusion of the high school season.
"I had made up my mind to go to Mizzou," said Speakman. "About a month after the season, I started thinking about how I was going to miss softball. Coach Videmschek had always talked about wanting me to play for her team. It just worked out."
Speakman was the leader both on and off the field for Cassville.
"It was like having another assistant coach," said Abramovitz. "Emily really grew into our team leader this year. When we needed a big hit or a big play, she found a way to get it done."
Speakman hit .337 for the Lady Wildcats with five home runs, two triples and 31 RBIs.
"We look for Emily to play first base and be a power hitter for our team," said Videmschek. "She is another type of athlete that has a high ceiling and a ton of raw potential."
Speakman stated that she has been playing softball for as long as she can remember. Her fondest memory was beating Purdy in a youth softball tournament.
"I was about 7, and we always struggled against Purdy," said Speakman. "I remember that the trophy was huge. It was taller than some of the players."
Speakman plans to major in physical therapy.
She is the daughter of Lorie and Todd Speakman, of Cassville.