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Stayin’ Sharp

Lincoln’s Nikoli Sharp wraps up summer softball season
By: Russ Edmondson The News Messenger
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Lincoln High softball star Nikoli Sharp, who will be a junior in the fall, has made herself visible to lots of colleges this summer while playing softball for the Bears 18 Gold team out of Concord. The summer season wrapped up with the Champions Cup (a college showcase) in Irvine, which ran July 15-19. The Bears played 10 games at this tourney and placed among the top-16 out of 96 teams. Sharp and the Bears have also participated in tournaments in Stockton, Las Vegas, Colorado and Oregon, among other places, since the season began on Memorial Day weekend. Sharp, who plays pitcher and first base, has stayed very busy this summer. To go along with the tournaments, she practiced with the Bears twice a week in Stockton and also takes lessons at Kelly Jackson’s All-American Softball School in Sacramento. She has been taking lessons at the Kelly Jackson school since she was six. “I take private lessons with a pitching coach and they help make sure you are doing everything right,” Sharp said. Sharp always plays softball during the summer but she noticed that she was getting more attention this year. College representatives can start talking to and recruiting Sharp once she starts school in the fall. “It was more intense. A lot of colleges watching you during the games and you have to focus,” Sharp said. “But it doesn’t really bother me. “They (college reps) introduce themselves to my parents and we have a college coordinator (working for the Bears) and he goes around to all the colleges for all the players on my team.” She does not know where she would like to attend college. “I am not sure still . . . I want to go somewhere where I can play and also get a good education,” said Sharp, who has played with the Bears for two years. Sharp said the Champions Cup in Irvine was the best that the Bears have played all summer. Sharp is enjoying a little bit of time off before winter ball gets started. That softball season, in which Sharp also plays for the Bears, starts at the end of August and runs until November. Sharp isn’t just sitting around waiting for the next season to start. “I still have to work on keeping in shape. And keep working on pitching and hitting,” Sharp said. Nikoli’s dad, Bill Sharp, has traveled along with Nikoli throughout her softball career. He named Oregon, Nevada Reno, Arizona, Northwestern, Texas A and M, South Carolina and Georgia among the universities that have shown some interest in Sharp. “The thing is Nikoli is not just another pitcher,” said Bill Sharp, saying her versatility is to her benefit with money being tight these days everywhere. “Really she is three positions – pitcher, first base and hitter. And now that schools have cut back in giving money for sports, she fits into a lot of schools (plans).” Bill Sharp says he has noticed that things are a lot more intense this summer compared to summers of the past. “It’s a huge difference, (the players) being older now and the colleges that watch the team,” he said.