Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Twitchel to play two sports at USM

June 8, 2006

Nichole Twitchel's eyes grew wide as University of St. Mary coaches Clint Frederiksen and Michael Basler set a stack of papers in front of her April 24 in the Lansing High School library.

Twitchel, an LHS senior, was about to sign her letters-of-intent to play softball for Frederiksen and basketball for Basler at St. Mary's. A future college multi-sport athlete, Twitchel had plenty of signing to do.

"I have to sign ALL of these?" she asked with a laugh.

She then proceeded to spend the next few minutes reading and signing each of the pages. As time consuming as her signing ceremony may have been, life in college will only get busier for Twitchel.

"I think I'm going to be really busy, which is probably a good thing," she said of life as a two-sport college athlete. "I think a lot of people get out of high school and they're bored and they don't know what to do and it's depressing."

Twitchel won't have much time for boredom during her time at St. Mary's. Free time will be minimal. She plans to study nursing at USM. When not in the classroom, her spare time will be spent on the practice field or in the gym.

Twitchel said she'd always envisioned herself being a college athlete, although it was usually only as a softball player.

Twitchel's best sport always has been softball. Her impact on the Lansing program has been monumental. She has been the starting catcher for every LHS softball game she has played during her four years. She also hit the game-winning home run in the 2004 regional softball tournament that sent the LHS into the state tournament. The Lions ultimately placed third in Class 4A.

"I hit a home run in the sixth against Atchison at regionals," she said. "It was on a big baseball field, so it kept rolling and rolling and rolling. That's how we won."

Although she has had one of the most lethal bats in the Lansing lineup for four years, it has been her presence behind the plate that has made the biggest impact. In addition to providing consistency at the position, her strong arm and athletic presence make her a unique find at the high school level.

Twitchel said she liked catching because it put her at the center of the action.

"It's kind of a leadership position," she said. "I'm not that outgoing, so it's kind of a problem sometimes, but you're always there and you make a big impact."

It is likely that Twitchel will be able to make a quick impact at USM. She is expected to start at catcher for the Lady Spires next year. Plus, her bat should be a welcome addition to the lineup of a squad that is just 3-20 this year.

Twitchel said she was uncertain what her role would be on the basketball team next year. At Lansing she was the Lions' top perimeter defender. She also was an accurate three-point shooter and had a dangerous pull-up jumper.

Regardless of how much court time she sees, Twitchel said basketball should be fun.

"I always really wanted to play softball," she said. "That was one of my goals, and basketball was just kind of a bonus. I always just played it because I loved it. Not because I thought I was going to go anywhere with it."

For now, Twitchel said she is focused on helping Lansing end its softball season on a high note. The Lions are 9-3 and are making a push for another state tournament appearance. Twitchel said that would be a great way to end her prep career.

"I think we have the potential to go really far," she said.

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