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GVIL CRABO SOFT
ALAN ROGERS / THE SOUTHERN Crab Orchard's Lacey Newbold fields a ball during a game with Goreville on Friday, April 1 in Goreville.

Lacey Newbold wrapped up her prep softball career in fine fashion as the all-time hitting leader in the state.

The Crab Orchard High School standout is also about to compete in a national softball tournament with the Illinois Force before beginning her Division I college career at SIU.

Her career batting average of .660 ranks third in the nation as well.

“I never really thought much about it my first three years of high school,” Newbold said. “But my senior year I started to think about it and didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down. In the end, it’s awesome to be able to know what all I’ve accomplished so far.”

Being the best player on her high school team and one of the top players in Southern Illinois presented its challenges. Newbold was walked frequently and ranks second in the state in that category, too.

“It was tough because I never got to see my favorite pitch anymore, and I didn’t get to hit the ball hard and hit home runs like I used to in high school ball,” Newbold said. “I had to be lucky just to get a pitch to hit. But it really made me learn to get discipline at the plate, and that will help out in the long run.”

Newbold and her teammates on the Illinois Force Gold team compete in the ASA Nationals on Monday. This event will feature some of the best talent from around the country.

“This is pretty exciting because it’s one of the biggest tournaments I’ll play in during travel ball,” Newbold said.

The dream of playing Division I college softball will come true this fall for Newbold, who turned down some other offers to stay close to home. The Crab Orchard graduate will suit up for the SIU Salukis and head coach Kerri Blaylock.

“This is just another huge step for me,” Newbold said. “Being a Division I athlete is what I’ve worked for since I was real young.”

The proximity to home along with the coaching staff at SIU is what helped Newbold make her college choice.

“Once coach Blaylock started to show interest that’s when I knew I wanted to go there,” Newbold said. “I just love being here in Southern Illinois, so I couldn’t go off to some other college. This is the perfect fit for me.”

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