Roughly 100 faculty members, relatives and friends took over the gym at Canyon del Oro High School on Wednesday morning to watch four softball players sign letters of intent.
Naturally, no one was more excited than the signees.
“This day is incredible,” said Becca Ziegler, who signed with Penn State. “We’ve all been waiting for this day since we were like 5.
“Starting our freshman year, we made a promise that we would be here in the fall to sign together and we made it.”
Three of Ziegler’s teammates — Samantha Nettling, Makenzie Sullivan and Dominique Gonzalez — also signed to play at the next level.
“This group is especially special to me,” CDO coach Stephanie Nicholson said. “I was a new coach when they we’re all sophomores. Each one of them has touched my heart. I’ve grown very close to all of them personally and professionally.”
Nettling’s final four came down to Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Northwestern but in the end the she chose the Wildcats — the purple kind — over the Ducks.
“When I stepped on the campus at Northwestern it was just different,” said Nettling, a catcher. “I knew in a second that that’s where I wanted to go.”
Sullivan, who is a utility infielder, signed with Boise State. She also had an offer from Northern Illinois but chose the Broncos, who started their softball program in 2009.
“Sports are such a big thing there; I’m excited to get to be part of the beginning of the legacy,” Sullivan said.
Along with Sullivan and Nettling, Gonzalez was one of three players on last year’s 31-6 team to finish with at least 34 runs, 38 RBIs, four home runs and an average above .410. The CDO first baseman and future college catcher turned down offers from Florida International, San Jose State and Grand Canyon to play at Division III Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md.
“The majority of the school is made up of athletes,” Gonzalez said. “You can see how they are both dedicated to their sport and their classwork.”
In other action around town Wednesday, Catalina Foothills baseball player Luis Gonzalez was among three Falcons taking part in the first day of the early signing period. Gonzalez, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder, signed with New Mexico. He picked the Lobos over Santa Clara, Grand Canyon and Washington, among others.
“I’m super-excited and can’t wait for next year to come,” he said.
Four days after helping Foothills sweep the Division II team titles at Saturday’s state swim meet, girls swimmer Krista Duffield signed with North Carolina State. Teammate Bonnie Diamond will be on the opposite coast; she signed with Cal Poly.
“It’s been a really exciting couple of days and I’m just so excited to go to N.C. State, and I’m happy with my state meet,” said Duffield, who won the 50-yard freestyle Saturday. “They have a really good sprint program and recently they had the third-fastest 200 free relay so I’m really excited for that. I think I could fit right in.”
Here's a list of Southern Arizona high school athletes signing national letters of intent during the early signing period, which began Wednesday and runs through next Wednesday. Know someone we didn't list? E-mail high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at email@example.com with the athlete's name, sport and college they signed with.
Catalina Foothills: Bonnie Diamond, swimming, Cal Poly; Krista Duffield, swimming, North Carolina State; Luis Gonzalez, baseball, New Mexico. Canyon del Oro: Dominique Gonzalez, softball, Mount Saint Mary; Mackenzie Sullivan, softball, Boise State; Rebecca Ziegler, softball; Penn State; Samantha Nettling, softball, Northwestern. Cienega: Andre Jackson, baseball, Utah; Jake Repavich, baseball, Grand Canyon; Thomas Shroder, baseball, California State - Northridge. Empire: Kelsey Smith, softball, East Tennessee State; Sabrina Tebou, softball, Loyola Marymount; Kaelyn Smith, softball, Friends. Ironwood Ridge: Andrew Sverdrup, golf, Embry-Riddle. Mountain View: Kailey Mellen, softball, Costal Carolina; Victoria Lujan, softball, Embry-Riddle. Sabino: Kelsey Jenkins, softball, Wisconsin. Salpointe Catholic: Denae Fisher, softball, Fort Lewis College; Krystal Quihuis, golf, Arizona; Ryan Tanner, golf, Fort Lewis College. Sierra Vista Buena: Matt Duce, baseball, Dallas Baptist. Tucson: Summer Avery, volleyball, California State - Bakersfield.