When Brandon McCall, Marissa Linquist and Sydney Ponto take to their respective diamonds this spring, each will do so feeling a little less pressure on their arms, bats and minds.
The trio of student-athletes at West Deptford High School signed letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at the collegiate level.
McCall, a member of the Eagles baseball team, expressed both excitement and relief about his decision to attend Limestone College—a Division 2 school in South Carolina.
The West Deptford senior had his sights set on attending a Southern school and got his wish after impressing the Limestone coaching staff. He received a call a few days after attending a camp and found out the school was interested in offering him some scholarship money.
“I was definitely down for it,” McCall said. “The campus was beautiful. The Southern lifestyle down there is totally different and it suits me. It is a smaller school and I kind of like that.”
Ponto decided to stay in state. She signed her intent to Caldwell University, where she will study Spanish and join the Cougars softball team. She also received offers from other schools to play field hockey, so the multiple-sport athlete was left with quite a dilemma. Some of the other schools that submitted offers included Monmouth, Lehigh, Bryant, Rider and Saint Joe's.
“Oh my god, it was the most difficult decision I have ever made,” said Ponto, who was recruited to pitch. “I would think about it all the time. Every time I was at a tournament it would cross my mind, and my mom and my coaches would always ask me about it. It was stressful.”
Potno got advice everywhere she turned, but ultimately decided if she could only play one sport, it would be the one she grew up playing.
“I’ve been playing softball all my life and I have been pitching since I was 7 years old,” Ponto said.
The Cougars went 39-16 last season, sporting an impressive 21-5 conference mark.
“They are a very good Division 2 program,” Ponto said. “They are a wining team and I hope to keep that tradition going.”
Linquist will also be joining a winning program after signing to attend Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. The Golden Bears set a school record last season, going 52-7 and advancing to the Division 2 College World Series.
“I have been going there for camps since I was a freshman, so I am comfortable there and no a lot of players on the team,” Linquist said. “They always made me feel welcome.”
Linquist and Ponto have split time on the mound for the Eagles over their high school careers, but Linquist expects to be an outfielder next spring.
“I work hard so I feel like I will be a good asset to the outfield,” said Linquist, who plans on majoring in Leisure and Sports and one day become a trainer.
All of the athletes hope to bring a title to West Deptford before their time at the high school is complete. Now they can go after that goal without the pressure of selecting a college weighing on them.
“It will be more relaxing,” said Linquist. “It will be more fun to just sit back and play the game that I love.”