FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
There was a point in Madison O’Neill’s softball career when she wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to continue playing.
That time is gone, and after Friday, there is no doubt her career will continue.
Surrounded by teammates, coaches and family, the Northeastern High School senior put ink to paper Friday as she signed her letter of intent to play softball for University of Northwestern Ohio starting with the 2014 season.
“It feels amazing, because at first, when I was 6, I didn’t really want to continue,” O’Neill said. “I didn’t like it at first, but for my dad, he pushed me through and helped me continue.
” … The fact that I have the heart and the ability to just pushes me more, and the fact that the teammates I play with, they’re like my family.”
O’Neill hit .325 for the Knights last season with a pair of doubles and a team-high eight stolen bases in nine attempts.
She caught for Northeastern, playing in all 24 games with the second highest fielding percentage at 97.09.
“She’s strong, she has a great arm, she can play anywhere,” Northeastern coach Jennifer Hill said. “I’ve always said if I could clone one I’d clone her, because she can play anywhere. … She works hard back there, she listens all the time and she’s got a strong arm, she’s got fast hands for a bat and she’s fast too, so that helps.”
The 2014 season will be UNOH’s first with a softball program.
The Racers are an NAIA program and compete in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
“I like that they were very friendly about it. The program, they want to push us. They’re there to help us and push us even farther. Like if we need questions, or anything like that. They want to watch us succeed, just like our parents,” O’Neill said.
She plans to study accounting.
“I think it’s a great honor,” Hill said. “It’s her hard work that gets her there. She’s a hustler, she works hard, she doesn’t take a swing off at practice, she is very coachable. Obviously, to go on to the next level, you have to be coachable. … It doesn’t surprise me. I think it’s a great opportunity for that coach to have her. I think it’s a great opportunity for Maddie. She works all year-round for it, so she deserves it. She’ll be great, because she’s a hard worker.”