Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local Sports

May 16, 2014

Kansas bound: Willis signs with Hesston College

RUSK —

Texas' loss could be Kansas' gain.

Rusk softball standout Gabby Willis signed a National Letter of Intent early Thursday afternoon in the lobby of Eagle Coliseum to continue her education and softball career at Hesston College, a two-year school with an enrollment of about 450 students, located approximately 35 miles north of Wichita, Kan.

Hesston could be getting a sweet deal in Willis, who recently was named as the District 19-3A Most Valuable Player.

She hit at a .519 clip in 24 games for the Lady Eagles during the 2014 season.

One of the area's most disciplined hitters, Willis struck out just once in 81 official trips to the dish this spring.

The daughter of Marlene and Ched Willis, has speed to burn on the base paths also, having successfully swiped 23 bases in 24 tries this season.

Willis, a gritty blue-collar type player, said that she loves the environment at Hesston and that the school afforded her an opportunity to fulfill her dreams on dual fronts.

Coach (Andrew) Sharp came out and saw me play last summer in a showcase tournament in Colorado and when he talked to me he not only stressed softball, but the nursing program that is offered at Hesston College,” Willis explained. “I love softball and I've always wanted to be an R.N., so it worked out perfectly for me. I like Kansas and when I visited the college I just felt like I was at home up there.”

Hesston may sign young ladies with more raw talent than Willis possesses, but, chances are, none will be able to outwork her.

In my 15 years of coaching softball, Gabby has been the hardest worker that I've been associated with,” Rusk assistant softball coach, Shane Smelley, said.

That hard work on the diamond began when Willis first started playing t-ball in the Rusk youth softball leagues when she was around five years old.

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