Times Sports Editor
Northview graduate Traci Sanders became a starter for the Knights from the time she stepped on the diamond as a freshman.
Next year she will be a Knight of a different color.
On Wednesday, Sanders signed a letter-of-intent to become the newest member of Coach Nick Short's Olney Central Blue Knight recruiting class for 2008.
The Knights' shortstop will be amongst friends when she joins Olney with Clay City's Angie Camp, former Terre Haute South Brave Kelsey Fougerousse and Selena Roman, a former Terre Haute North Patriot, also set to play for the Blue Knights.
"I'll know a lot of the girls on the team so it'll help me be more relaxed," said Sanders. "And I didn't want to be too far away," she said with a smile.
Short will be in his first year as the head coach of the program that had a 15-28 record last year. The two-year Biology and Anatomy professor at Olney believes that the Wabash Valley has an abundance of talent to strengthen his program in years to come.
"Indiana doesn't have a junior college system and Olney is close to the Indiana border," said Short. "The level of talent in southwestern Indiana is outstanding. I'd be stupid not to recruit there," he quipped.
Sanders, who was an All-State Honorable Mention this season, hit .458 this year with 38 hits in 83 at-bats as Northview reached the sectional championship game against perennial foe Martinsville. She also slugged .627 for the year, scoring 26 runs driving home 22 runs.
Northview coach Bethany Jones feels that Sanders will be a great fit for Olney next year.
"As a player, she's a natural," said Jones. "Her knowledge of the game is tremendous and it's been great to see her grow as a role model and a leader over her four years here."
Short was also complimentary of not only Sanders ability on the diamond, but her qualities off the field as well.
"She has all the tools," said Short. "She's got a great arm, a good softball sense, moves well and she knows the game. She's also a high character young lady from a great family and that's what I was looking for in my first class."
Short's first recruiting class will be a big one for the two-year junior college. According to the avid fast-pitch softball competitor, 11 players are already signed for next Fall with four more girls already giving verbal commitments.
Sanders expects to compete for time at the shortstop position, but said she'll likely play several positions.
"The coaches said that I could play shortstop, but I may play some at third base and really anywhere in the infield, but maybe not first base because I'm too short," she joked.
While softball is going to allow her to continue her education under scholarship next year, Sanders is already thinking about her future in academia.
"I really want to major in Athletic Training," said Sanders. "Olney doesn't offer that, but I'll be able to get my general education classes out of the way before going to a four-year school."
Sanders credits Northview Athletic Trainer, Nicole Gonzales with sparking her interest in the field.
"I just really love being around sports and I really loved our athletic trainer," said Sanders.
Though both Jones and Short pointed towards some aspects that Sanders needs to work on to make the next step in competition, each were quick to credit her work ethic.
"I think the biggest improvement for her will be at the plate," said Short. "The pitching at this level is challenging. You'll see pitchers throwing 63-66 miles per hour day-in, day-out. That's the main thing."
"She'll have to work on her speed and agility with some drills," said Jones. "But I know once she gets over there she's going to make the adjustment."
"Traci most definitely deserves it," said Jones. "She's worked hard and though she's had slumps, she always worked hard to get through them. When I asked for 110 percent she'd always give 115 percent."