(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
ORAN -- Oran senior Abbey Anderson wanted a comfortable fit as far as where she wanted to attend college.
She also wanted a chance to play her favorite sport at the same time.
Three Rivers Community College gives Anderson both of those opportunities.
"I've always loved playing softball and this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Anderson said. "I know quite a few of the girls over there. It's local, small and that's what I'm used to."
Anderson signed a letter of intent with TRCC on Tuesday for a full-ride scholarship to play with the Lady Raiders in Poplar Bluff.
Three Rivers Community College is a two-year college that competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Last spring, the Lady Raiders had an overall record of 43-16.
Anderson, who helped the Lady Eagles reach the Class 1, District 1 title game just this past season, accumulated 23 hits and 22 runs in 20 games with Oran. In 67 at-bats in her leadoff, slap hitting role, the speedy, fiery Anderson struck out just five times and had an on-base percentage of .443 making her a tough out which caught the eye of TRCC head coach Jack Childress.
"She has a couple of attributes that you can't teach -- one's speed," Childress said. "She's tremendously coachable and I was told she will be the sweetest kid on the team. She fields ground balls well, she gets a good jump and she can steal a few bases."
Anderson will follow in the footsteps of a former Oran graduate and TRCC softball player who she looked up to while trying to learn her high school position of shortstop -- Wendy Eftink. She also knows current TRCC softball players that she said will help her ease into the transition.
"She's an awesome shortstop," Anderson said about Eftink. "That's who I looked up to growing up. I know a lot of the girls over there now so, that will help."
At TRCC, however, Anderson will most likely see time at second base or the outfield because of her superior speed. She is continuing to work on her slap-hitting which coach Childress says is the key to the Lady Raiders success.
"We do a little bit of Whitey (Herzog) ball over there. I use several slappers. Slappers, in my book, rank just below a pitcher. You can win a lot of games with them.
"I figure she's going to be a good fit," added Childress. "To get someone like her that knows the game -- I think she's going to fit right in. She'll get plenty of playing time."
Although she has some experience as a slap-hitter, Anderson admitted she still needs some time to adjust.
"I don't have a high enough confidence in slapping yet," Anderson said. "I could always use more fielding practice, but hard work is everything."
"She's a vocal leader," said Oran softball coach Sara Heisserer, who believes Anderson will fit in nicely at TRCC. "She's a hard worker and she gives it her all.
"She's going to be missed by our program next year."