By Angel Verdejo and Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
Kim Rennie does not care how far away from home she will be.
Her only concern? Getting a full scholarship to play college softball.
Rennie put pen to paperwork Tuesday to play for Brown Mackie College - Salina in a signing ceremony at Florence High.
"They offered a full scholarship, so I don't care how far it is," Rennie said of signing with the Kansas junior college. "I put a lot of money into (softball), so I was really hoping I could (go onto the next level)."
Rennie was contacted by the coaches at Brown Mackie after they heard about her play on the summer select team, Temple's Hit and Run, and then checked out her stats on the high school sports website, MaxPreps.
Those stats - a 2.86 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched - were stellar for a Lady Buffs team that did not excel throughout the year.
"It was really easy for me to come in (and coach my first year at Florence), when I had a four-year starter like Kim," said Florence softball coach Brett Gola. "We will be watching and cheering for her."
Rennie took a trip to Salina to give her new coach, Laura Christopher, a look at what she could do live.
"They had already offered me the scholarship but they wanted to see me play," Rennie said.
Two years from now Rennie said she hopes to continue her softball career at a four-year college.
"If I don't get hurt I think I have a really good shot," Rennie said. "It just depends on if anyone thinks I am good still."
Belton's Nieberding signs with Columbus State
John Nieberding lived in Georgia as a sophomore before returning to Belton for his junior and senior years.
He partly returned for the baseball, which in turn helped him become a college prospect.
Now the utility player is returning to Georgia and does so as a college athlete. Nieberding signed with Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. earlier this month, joining the same NCAA Division II school where his half-brother Drew Candlin spent two seasons. He's also returning to the same town where most of his family still lives.
"They seemed really excited about me coming and wanting to play for them," Nieberding said by phone Tuesday.
The final steps started during a December workout. Nieberding was already in Georgia spending time with family, and visited Columbus State, where he hit, threw and fielded balls from third base.
"I felt pretty good about it," said Nieberding, though he added the coaches didn't immediately share his enthusiasm.
With little to go on except the workout, Nieberding said the Columbus State coaches told him they would have coaches they knew in Texas watch him play. So the waiting game began.
Nieberding hit .333 with six RBIs and 10 runs scored during a senior season where he suffered a broken thumb in March.
"It was a long one," Nieberding said of the wait. "I was really wanting to go to CSU of course."
The call came a few weeks after Belton's baseball season ended in the Class 5A region semifinals at the end of May. From there came Nieberding's own phone calls to family members who live in Columbus.
"They were excited to see me come back," he said. "They're spread out in the town of course, but they're within driving distance. Ten minutes, 20 minutes."
Lampasas' Bogart commits to St. Edwards
It came down to relationships.
Lampasas softball standout Marissa Bogart already had a relationship with St. Edward's University coaches Amy Coulter and Amiee Vaughn through camps and lessons. So when it came down to choosing a college to play for, the senior "Rizzo" picked where she felt the most comfortable.
Bogart gave her verbal commitment to the NCAA Division II school, choosing St. Edward's over Ouachita Baptist University and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day a softball player in the Class of 2011 can sign a national letter of intent is Nov. 10.
"I've developed a really good relationship with them (Coulter and Vaughn) and we've always had an understanding of each other," Bogart said by phone from California, where she is playing with her select team, the Texas Avengers Gold, at the 7th Annual Champions Cup. "I feel really comfortable going there."
Bogart first met the Hilltopper coaches two years ago through batting lessons, and the relationships continue to blossom. St. Edwards went 34-21 last season and has averaged nearly 43 wins the last four seasons.
"It's nice to be able to relax and not have to worry about other colleges," Bogart said. "Though it was flattering when other colleges took an interest."
Bogart hit .473 with three home runs, 23 runs and 25 RBIs for Lampasas last season, helping lead the Lady Badgers to their second straight District 25-4A title. The team reached the 4A regional quarterfinals and should be primed for another playoff run next year with the entire roster scheduled to return and a drop to Class 3A.