GREENVILLE — Greenville senior Haleigh Luce signed her letter of intent on Wednesday to play college softball for Capital University.
Luce, the daughter of Allen and Tracey Luce, said it’s very exciting to continue her softball career at the college level and she felt very comfortable with the Capital program.
“I really hit it off with the players and the coaches, like I was really welcomed,” the Greenville center fielder said.
Luce wanted to stay close to home, and Capital, located in the Columbus suburb of Bexley, was an ideal fit for her.
“The campus is really pretty, super pretty,” said Luce, who is undecided on what she will study in college. “It’s close to home, and I know that I’m going to get a quality education. And I’m going to be playing with a very successful softball team.”
Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland pushed Luce to pursue playing softball at the college level, she said, and gave her the confidence that she can play at the next level.
“I’m proud of Haleigh and the effort she has put forth as a quality student-athlete,” Newland said. “Haleigh is a great leader and role model for the younger kids and will lead us back to (the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament in) Akron this season.”
Luce has started every game for the Lady Wave softball team the past two seasons. Last year she was named first team all-Greater Western Ohio Conference, first team all-GWOC North and to the Southwest District Underclass All-Star Team.
As a junior she led Greenville with 37 runs scored, was second on the team with three home runs, was second with 26 RBI, was second with a .461 on-base percentage, was third with a .388 batting average and was third with eight doubles. In the outfield she had a perfect fielding percentage with 22 putouts and one assist.
“She will go down as one of the best outfielders I’ve had here and will get her 100th career win and hit this season,” said Newland, who has four former players currently playing college softball. “She has put multiple balls out of our stadium and will excel at the next level.”
Capital plays at the NCAA Division III level as a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference. Led by coach Nan Payne, the Crusaders currently are No. 28 in the Division III national rankings.
The Crusaders have no seniors on their 2014 roster so Luce said it will be difficult to earn playing time early in her college career, although it’s still a goal.
“I really want to, but I have to work hard considering most of their starting (lineup) is going to be seniors next year,” Luce said.
With Luce’s abilities, Newland said he expects her to compete for playing time early in her college career.
“She has a chance to go to a stable, top-notch program led by Nan and will be able to compete very quickly for playing time,” Newland said. “She will bring a great skill set to the Crusaders, and I expect her to be ready to go and help Capital continue their winning ways.”
Luce is one of five seniors on the Greenville softball team this year. The Lady Wave have a 79-18 record the past three years and were the Division II state runners up in Luce’s sophomore season.
After finishing one game short of making state a year ago, Luce hopes to help lead Greenville back to the state final four in Akron this year.
“We’ve been practicing really hard the past couple weeks, and I just think that it’s going to go really well,” she said.