Madison-Plains senior Kennedy Clifton was smiling wide during a ceremony at the high school Thursday where she signed a commitment letter to play softball at Wilmington College.
The smile came in large part due to the number of family, friends and teammates who where there to support her. But there was also a sigh of relief knowing this whole process was coming to an end and she can now just concentrate on playing the sport she loves for one last season in high school and not worrying about what comes after that.
“It feels like a lot of weight is off of my shoulders,” Clifton said. “I’ve worked since I was four-years-old to get here. I can now go out there and just have fun and not have any worries.”
Clifton has developed into quite a player over the last few seasons. As a freshman on a good Madison-Plains High School squad she played wherever she was asked. That meant some time at second base and some platooning in the outfield. But as time has gone by she has settled into the outfield and has become one of the best to play the position as Plains.
“They’re getting probably the best outfielder we’ve ever had out here,” Madison-Plains High School coach Kevin Stockham said. “We’ve had some good ones.
“She’s the perfect leadoff hitter, she gets on base she hit (over .400) and her on-base (percentage) was over .600. She tales pitches, doesn’t force a lot of things and is a team player. She does whatever’s necessary to help the team succeed.”
Clifton was sold on Wilmington after spending some time on the campus. She said her interactions with the coaches and players as well as the campus itself were all factors.
“It feels like home to me,” she said. “When I went there the first time I was a little unsure about what it was going to be like. But then I got there and it just felt like home. It was the right place for me.”
Just like at Madison-Plains High School Clifton was recruited to play in a spot she’s comfortable playing.
“The coach said she wants me to play outfield and probably come in and be their leadoff hitter,” Clifton said. “I can do that.”
Wilmington won out over a whole host of other schools including Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati and Lourdes University in Sylvania.
“I never expected that I’d have so many people here supporting me,” she said. “Wilmington is close enough that my parents will be able to watch me play.”
We struggled as a team last year, but the top of the lineup scored runs. A big part of that was because Kennedy was on base. It makes life so much easier knowing that when you get to the top of the lineup your leadoff hitter is going to get on base six or seven times out of 10.
“She’s a very good hitter, a lot of schools were looking at her but she wanted to be pretty close to home and she got that at Wilmington. I think she’ll do great down there.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.