By GREG KEIM firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MIDDLEBURY — When a high school girls softball team posts a 77-8 record over the last three seasons, college coaches are bound to take notice and be interested in recruiting the players.
Three seniors from the highly-successful Northridge Raiders have found themselves in that position and have gotten the college selection process out of the way before their final prep season begins this spring.
Outfielder-pitcher Brooke Maes has decided to go to Goshen College, second baseman Brianne O’Dell to Cedarville University (Cedarville, Ohio) and pitching sensation Haley Nixon to Indiana Wesleyan University.
“This is nice. It’s the first time we’ve had three signings at the same time,” Northridge coach Bo O’Dell said. “This is a good position for any program to be in.”
Maes has a career batting average of .317 with two doubles, two triples and a home run. She has scored 31 runs and driven in 28. As a pitcher, she had a 2.37 ERA over 41 1/3 innings. She has a 4-0 record.
“I have been taking classes there already and I like the professors, the team and the coaches,” Maes said of Goshen College. “I’m relieved to get the decision out of the way so I don’t have to worry about it. I’m glad not to have to send any more letters out.”
Maes has also played some second base.
“I’m not sure which position I’ll play in college,” she said. “I like them all.”
She is glad for the opportunity to play at Northridge.
“Being here had made me a better player and a better person,” Maes said. “I love my teammates and the opportunity to play every day.”
Coach O’Dell said, “Brooke is a three-year regular and a two-year starter in center field. We lost the Schrock sisters (Haley and Madison) to graduation and Brooke is more than ready to step into a leadership role for this season.
“Goshen College is a good fit for her and she is already taking classes there.”
Brianne O’Dell is a four-year starter and has a .405 career batting average. She has a total of 26 doubles, five triples and three home runs. She has scored 84 runs and driven in 79.
“I really liked the Christian atmosphere at Cedarville. It’s a good atmosphere where I will get the chance to grow both spiritually and academically,” she said.
Butler, Purdue and Ferris State were other schools she considered.
She has been playing for her dad at Northridge.
“Dad has taught me to work hard and that nothing is given to you,” she said.
She plans to study pharmacy.
“I wanted to be in the medical field, but not as a doctor or nurse,” she said.
O’Dell batted a team-high .489 for the Raiders last season as Northridge (26-2) won the NLC championship (14-0), captured a Class 4A sectional and regional title and were ranked No. 2 in the final Coaches Poll.
“Brianne has put up solid numbers,” coach O’Dell said. “Cedarville is a very good fit for her, both from an academic and softball standpoint.”
Brianne O’Dell was a first team all-NLC selection in 2012 and 2013.
Nixon has compiled an impressive 62-5 record with a noteworthy ERA of 1.38 in 427 innings. She has struck out 387 batters and walked 46. She has tossed 21 shutouts.
“The campus, coaches and the academics were everything I wanted in a school,” Nixon said. “I really like the Christian atmosphere at Indiana Wesleyan.”
Purdue North Central, Bethel College and Goshen College were other school she considered.
Pitching came to Nixon is a unique way.
“I saw someone pitching and told my dad that is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve been working at it every day since then.”
She has had a couple of very good role models.
“Jenny Finch is the one everybody wants to be like,” Nixon said. “Natalie Newell (Goshen High School graduate now pitching at Bethel) has helped me a lot. We’ll see what happens when we go up against each other. We can be friends and still compete against each other.”
Nixon knows she has some work to do in order to pitch in college.
“I have two or three pitches and will have to develop more,” she said. “My speed needs to improve and so does the spin on the ball.”
Nixon was 25-2 last season with a 1.22 ERA. She was a first team all-NLC selection and a third team all-state choice.
“Haley has the velocity and desire to be a good pitcher,” coach O’Dell said. “She is a real team player.”
Not all of her talents are in the pitching circle as her career batting average is .381 and her career fielding percentage of .995. The last two seasons her fielding percentage has been 1.000. The only error of her career came in her freshman season.
“She is a great all-around player,” O’Dell said. “She is a great pitcher and it helps when you pitcher is a good fielder.”
Nixon was also a first team all-NLC selection in 2011 and 2012.