CRESTVIEW — A bright future awaits a quartet of Crestview High School softball seniors.
Kayla Kelch, Parys Alexander, Kelsie Dardon and Ragan Sowell are taking the next step in their softball journeys by signing scholarship papers to play college ball next year.
Kelch has signed with Pensacola State College. Alexander, Dardon and Sowell are headed to Enterprise State Community College in Geneva, Ala.
Kathy Combest, who coached the softball team last year, beamed as she talked about the four seniors.
"This is just a great class right there," she said. "They work hard. I saw that they had so much heart."
"...Any time something needed to be done in a game last year, they stepped up. I saw them get better from the time I took over until the end of the season."
Dardon, a catcher for Crestview, expects to stay behind the plate at Enterprise.
Her decision to sign with the Boll Weevils came down to feeling Enterprise was the best fit.
"I just really liked the coaches and the field," she said. "And the environment really felt like home. I met all the girls and it was like they have been my teammates my whole life."
Sowell echoed Dardon's sentiments.
"The coaches seemed like they cared more than anybody else," Sowell said. "I liked the school and I liked the community. I just liked that it is a small southern town and it kind of seems like everybody knows everybody.
"It will give me a chance to experience life without my parents, but when I need them they won't be too far away."
Alexander said Enterprise reminds her of Crestview. And like Dardon and Sowell, she was impressed with the Enterprise coaching staff.
Alexander believes she has a lot to offer her future team.
"I think I love to play softball and I have a passion for the game," she said.
Pensacola State assistant coach Becky Horn was on hand Tuesday to see Kelch sign with the Pirates. She said the Pirate coaches were impressed with Kelch the first time she tried out.
"The first time we saw Kayla she came and worked out for us with a group of kids," Horn said. "She has such a great work ethic and she's very athletic. She has a positive attitude and she was talking and cheering for people.
"She was being such a great teammate and she didn't even know the people she was working out with. That's the kind of player we want in our program."
Kelch, who plays shortstop for Crestview, will start out as a utility play at Pensacola State.
Kelch isn't worried about where she will play.
"I will go in there and fight for a position and play my hardest," she said.
And just what was it about the Pirates that attracted Kelch to Pensacola State?
"I like the campus," Kelch said. "And Coach Horn, I love her. All the girls there are cool and I love the softball program."
It will be another year before the college programs can reap the rewards of the talented Bulldog seniors. That's not the case for first-year Crestview softball coach Corey McSween.
"It's nice to have talent around," he said. "This starts off the season on a good note. But we have to go out there and work and try to get better each day."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.