High School Softball

Peace inks Division I scholarship with La Salle

by Doug Gorman

Northgate senior McKenzie Peace can barely remember a time when she didn’t play softball.

The Lady Vikings’ pitcher first stepped on the softball field when she was 4-years-old and she has been hooked on the game ever since.

After helping lead Northgate to the Class AAAAAA runner-up this past season, Peace will now take her game to the next level, signing a Division I scholarship to La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Playing for the Atlantic 10 program will allow Peace to fulfill her love of softball and desire to study nursing.

Northgate came up just short of winning the state title this year when it lost twice to Ola in the winners’ bracket of the Class AAAAAA tournament.

Still, Peace knows the Lady Vikings had a successful season, spending the bulk of the year ranked No. 1 in the Class AAAAA Coaches’ poll and finishing the season with a 28-9-2 record.

“Playing here since my eighth grade year has really helped me develop over the years and also learn to pitch under pressure,” she said.

Northgate head coach Lisa Skelton said Peace showed her competitive fires this season, pitching nearly every inning.

“She took us on her back,” Skelton said “She was our only experienced pitcher. She knows what it is like to be in such a tough environment. She had to do it for us, she brought it all.”

The future LaSalle pitcher also gives credit to private pitching instructor Stacy Tamborra for also getting her ready to pitch in college.

“She is just a kid who never gives up, Tamborra said. “I have known her for a very long time. She is consistent and steady. She works hard in the off season. She does a lot of strength training. She does whatever she needs to do to prepare herself.”

Peace follows a long line of Northgate players who have signed Division I scholarships, including Georgia Tech pitcher Ashley Clifton and Kentucky shortstop Ansley Smith. Forrest Skelton is entering her junior year at Rhodes.

Both just completed their freshmen seasons. Times-Herald 2012 Player of the Year and Northgate graduate Andie Martin will begin her first year of college softball this spring at Western Kentucky.

Along with Peace, Lady Vikings senior shortstop Casey Kent also signed a letter of intent this week with Lander University. Junior outfielder Ebonee Echols has verbally committed to Michigan State while looking ahead to Northgate’s signing class in 2014-15.

“It’s great to be able to think I am continuing that legacy,” Peace said. “I know when I was younger, I looked up to these players. There are a bunch of players from here who are playing college ball. I hope some of the younger players see if they work hard, they can pursue playing in college too.”

Skelton knows her senior pitcher has a bright future.

“I am just glad so many players from Northgate are getting the chance to continue to play,” she said. “Whether or not it reflects on what we do at Northgate it’s good they can keep playing.”

Peace also gives credit to teammate and friend Brittany Futral.

The pitcher-catcher combination were often on the same page.

“It helps when you have a great catcher,” she said. “We have been together a long time, and we know what each other are doing.”

Peace says the biggest challenge could come to adjusting to the winters. College softball starts in February when snow could still blanket the ground in Philadelphia.

“They might be the toughest part,” she said. “It will be different, but I am looking forward to it.”

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