Seeing what’s out there

Lincoln’s Stephanie Tofft goes on two unofficial visits in Illinois
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High softball star Stephanie Tofft, who will start her senior year later this month, made her first unofficial college visits earlier this week in Illinois. Athletes can’t make official visits to colleges until the first day of their senior year of high school. She visited Northern Illinois on Monday and the University of Illinois at Chicago on Tuesday afternoon before fitting in a Chicago White Sox baseball game with her dad on Tuesday night. Tofft says other schools that have shown an interest in having her play softball for them include UC Riverside, East Carolina, Western Kentucky and Colorado State. The star pitcher, who also plays shortstop for the Zebras, talked about what she wants in a college. “Definitely the campus (is important) and the coaches for sure – because that is who I will be spending four years with,” Tofft said. “And how nice the campus is, I don’t want it to be all beat-up and in the ghetto.” She called the two campuses in Illinois “pretty nice.” Tofft played softball for the California Breeze, 16-and-under, this summer and the Breeze wrapped up their season with nationals in South Dakota on Friday. Tofft and her dad, Kinechi Tofft, then drove to Illinois after that tournament concluded. “We did O.K. – middle of the pack,” said Stephanie Tofft about the national tournament. “Could have done better. I was sick the whole week before (the tournament) and lost 10 pounds and couldn’t practice. It got better as the week went on . . . I had a pretty good summer (playing for the Sacramento-based Breeze), ups and downs.” Tofft doesn’t get much of a break from softball as tryouts for the Breeze’ winter season are in two weeks. The first tournament is in September. Tofft had a dominant junior season for Lincoln, on the mound and at the plate. The leadoff hitter hit .612 (60-for-98) with nine homers, 20 RBI and 36 steals. She also had eight doubles, two triples, an on base percentage of .655 and scored 43 runs. She led the team in each of these categories except RBIs (Nikoli Sharp had 21) and doubles (Sharp tied her with eight). Tofft also went 13-4 on the mound with 10 complete games. She allowed just nine earned runs, 41 hits and 30 walks in 112.2 innings. She struck out 132 batters.