Lincoln senior softball players sign Letters of Intent

By: Jim Linsdau of The News Messenger
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With the high school softball season just a few months away, the Lincoln Fighting Zebras gave an indication of things to come by signing six of its senior players to Letters of Intent for the 2017-18 season.

Bella Bottini, Bailey Eaton, Olivia Honeycutt, Bailee Nunes, Lexie Smith and Lexee Sheiring all put their names on the dotted line to play for their respective schools.

“All these young ladies will succeed as a student. They’re going to make a determination now because once they get their scholarships it’s totally different,” said Lincoln head softball coach and athletic director Donna Tofft. “Their days are going to be very structured and they’re going to tell you when you do this and when you do that. They’re going to find they either like it or they’re not.”

Tofft said it was not unusual for some athletes to later decide their schools are just too far away from home and decide to come back and play for a local junior college. However, the coach felt this group of student-athletes could see their scholarships through to graduation.

“I would say this group of young ladies I could see staying at those colleges,” Tofft added.

Bella Bottini, signed with Widener University in Pennsylvania. A pitcher for the Zebras, Bottini plans to study nursing.

“I went there this summer for a tournament,” Bottini said. “I originally didn’t want to go that far, but I just saw what they were giving me and I really fell in love with the school.”

Bailey Eaton will also head east to play for Wagner College in New York City. The first-base player said she was a bit nervous about moving that far, but is still excited to make the transition.

She is also looking forward to final season with the Zebras.

“I think (the Zebras) are going to do well, I really do. I think we have a really good chance of winning league,” Eaton said. “We’re deep in the lineup and we’re really good on defense. Except for our outfield, nothing much changed. Just two spots in our defense and we’ll be good to go.”

Also planning to take up residence in the state of New York is Bailee Nunes. An outfielder, Nunes chose Mercy College after being introduced to the Mavericks’ head coach there.

The senior plans to study business and feels her last season with the Zebras will be a successful one.

“I’m just proud to be a Zebra today,” Nunes said.

Staying closer to home will be Olivia Honeycutt. She signed with Holy Names University in Oakland Hills.

“The view is absolutely amazing,” Honeycutt said, describing the view from the campus. “You can see all of the Bay Area, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge; it’s awesome.”

She was recruited after playing in a softball tournament where Holy Names’ scouts were observing her. After participating in a tryout with the team, Honeycutt signed with the Hawks.

Honeycutt plays behind the plate for the Zebras, but prefers the outfield where she’ll likely play for Holy Names. She plans to study dental hygiene while there.

On the opposite end of the Bay Area, Lexie Smith will be showcasing her talents at San Jose State University. Besides playing softball for the Spartans, she plans to study pre-nursing or kinesiology.

Smith said she plays a lot of travel ball, giving her some insight as to what life as a college student-athlete might be like.

Smith said she hopes all those who did not graduate last year will return for their final season of softball at Lincoln High. She had heard some players are thinking of eschewing the 2017 season.

“Last year we had a lot of big bats. We had a couple seniors that were a big part of that lineup,” Smith said. “But I think we have a pretty solid defense on the infield and our outfielders. We have a lot of strong arms. I think all around we’re pretty good athletes.”

One of the top softball pitchers in the area, Lexee Sheiring will head up the coast to play for California State University Humboldt.

With her exposure playing for the NorCal Firecrackers and the All American Sports Academy, a couple players who played for Humboldt State introduced her to the ‘Jacks coach. After being invited to a softball camp, Sheiring signed on.

Planning to study kinesiology, Sheiring said she would be called upon to pitch, play first base and swing a bat.

Those are likely the same things she will be doing for her last season at Lincoln.

“We’re going to do pretty good this year. I’m pretty excited for this season,” the senior said. “I think we’ll be pretty good on defense.”

Also looking forward to their return this spring is Coach Tofft.

“I’m so proud of these young ladies. It’s a lot of time commitment, a lot of work,” Tofft said of her scholarship players. “They all played competitive ASA and they know what it’s like.”