Unlike the national signing day for future college football programs, northwest softball players didn’t call press conferences or gather the media. They didn’t call press conferences for their signings or have the school’s marching band play the fight song of their future college. They didn’t place a half-dozen hats or jerseys on a table in front of them and dramatically -- drum roll included -- pick up the hat or jersey and put it on in making their collegiate choice.
For the most part, softball players from the Northwest gathered with close friends, family and coaches to sign their letters of intent to the college of their choice. Some simply opened the mail, picked up a pen and signed their letters with no fanfare whatsoever.
But despite the lack of media attention of the notoriety-gathering football players, their signing -- and receiving an opportunity to play college softball -- was every bit as important and exciting to the individuals and their families.
Most said they were excited about “being given” the opportunity to play at the next level. And nearly all said it had “been their dream” since childhood.
Mallory Copeland said that as she was signing, her thoughts “were on her future adventure.”
“My thoughts on singing would have to be an adventure,” said the Milton-Freewater (Ore.) senior. “You work countless hours and put in so much work to finally see the end-product come together ... it's just amazing. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of playing softball in high school and college. I devoted my time to better myself and others and met great people along the way. I am truly blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to play college ball.”
Copeland, who has earned all-state honors as a pitcher and catcher, said she originally thought D1 and “going big” was her dream, but “but when I really started looking in to it College of Idaho fit me and was the college I could see myself going to. I love the atmosphere of the school and can't wait to attend and start playing ball.”
Landree Miethe, a 2017 Fastpitch Northwest Scholarship winner, signed in front of her classmates during a special on-campus event for senior signings.
Miethe, an All-Stater from Warrenton (Ore.) said her initial thoughts on signing were 'Wow! This is Crazy. I can't believe I am actually here already. My Senior year softball season hasn't even started and I am already set to play college softball.' Then I looked up and saw the entire student body clapping and cheering for me and it made me cry. To see all my friends and classmates being so proud of me made it even more special.”
“I had a lot of challenges with school and at times thought playing college softball wasn't going to be possible, but I worked extra hard on my school and softball. Softball was actually the easiest part. I am proud of myself for all I have accomplished, but I am hoping this is just the beginning of another four years of playing the best sport ever.”
Miethe, who stole 50 bases as a junior, said she chose Lower Columbia Community College because her cousin and some friends attended LCC and she wants to follow in their footsteps. “I hope I will make them all proud," she said.
It goes without saying that signing day is a big day for college coaches as well.
"It's been such a great experience for our Softball program at Walla Walla to have a good relationship with FPNW,” said Walla Walla head coach Justin Speer. “They are dedicated to the betterment of each girl. They provide a great platform for girls in this sport for exposure and the opportunity to move on and play at the college level. Our program at Walla Walla has been very fortunate to have acquired girls that have come through FPNW and I've seen first hand the great work they do. They are dedicated to the athlete and want success for each one”
Speer added, “I look forward to being involved with and working with FPNW in the further."
Copeland and Miethe are just two of the more than 40 Fastpitch Northwest alums who have signed to play collegiately. More will sign before college classes begin in the fall. Here are comments from just a few of the many who have signed.
Bailey Hillmick, Weston-McEwen High School (Weston-McEwen, Ore.). Signed with Willamette University (Salem, Ore.).
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to play at the next level, especially at a place like Willamette University. When I started playing softball at age seven, I new I loved the sport and it was always my dream to play in college and so the fact that I was able to make my dream a reality is amazing. I have put a lot of hard work into this and like you said, hard work pays off. I'd also like to say thank you to you guys at Fastpitch NW for everything you guys have done and putting on the tournament like you do for young players to get recruited. It truly is amazing to be there.”
Teyha Domingues, Pilot Rock High School (Pilot Rock, Ore.). Signed with Blue Mountain Community College (Pendleton, Ore.).
"All the hard work that girls across the nation have put in is paying off, so I'm congratulating them all. I'm determined to make this experience an example for all the little girls in my home town of Pilot Rock. No matter where you come from, or what your background is, you can be a great player and further your dreams after high school sports."
Amanda Smith, Sisters High School (Sisters, Ore.). Signed with Walla Walla Community College (Walla Walla, Wash.).
“Playing at the next level has always been a dream of mine, but finding that I actually had the potential was when I went to the Fastpitch Northwest’s college exposure tournament in the summer of 2015. I had just finished my sophomore year (in high school), and being able to actually talk face to face with coaches who were interested in me was the moment I knew I might have an opportunity. Not only were coaches talking to me, but it really made me passionate about my future in softball ... giving me the drive to practice and begin to reach out more to other colleges.”
Bekah Roe, Pilot Rock High School(Pilot Rock, Ore.). Signed with Mt. Hood Community College (Troutdale, Ore.).
“Coming from a very small school and community, I think it's amazing that I get to play at a very competitive community college that will help me get even further in my career. It sounds cliche, but I couldn't have done it without my entire community and I have enjoyed proving that it doesn't matter how small of a school/ town you come from, you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Nichole Geisy, Ellensburg High School (Ellensburg, Wash.). Signed with College of Idaho (Caldwell, Ida.
“Signing my letter of intent was super exciting. It made it even more real to me that I am going to keep going on in my journey continuing to play the sport I love, softball and with a great school as well. My dream has always been to play college softball. To take my skills to the next level and play even more competitive teams. I'm excited for meeting new people on my team and getting to make new friends. I am also excited to work with my new coaches. It is going to be a great experience and I am ready for it to start.”