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Troup’s Arnold ready to be a Panther

Softball standout heading to LaGrange College

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

Troup High’s Amber Arnold is heading to LaGrange College to play softball. She made that official during a ceremony at Troup last week. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_arnold3.jpgTroup High’s Amber Arnold is heading to LaGrange College to play softball. She made that official during a ceremony at Troup last week. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
Troup’s Amber Arnold was a four-year starter in softball, and she helped lead the team to back-to-back appearances in the state playoffs. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/web1_arnold1.jpgTroup’s Amber Arnold was a four-year starter in softball, and she helped lead the team to back-to-back appearances in the state playoffs. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

LAGRANGE – She’s ready for the next challenge.

After four exceptional seasons on the Troup High softball team, Amber Arnold is set to give the college game a try, and she won’t have to go far to do it.

Arnold has decided to join the LaGrange College softball team, and she made that official last week during a ceremony at the school.

Those who have meant the most to Arnold over the years, including friends, family members, coaches and teachers, were on hand in the media center at Troup as Arnold announced her decision.

“It means so much,” Arnold said of having everyone at the school to support her. “It’s been a great four years.”

Arnold said she has known LaGrange College softball coach Jennifer Claybrook for years, and that’s she’s eager to join the successful program.

Last spring, LaGrange College won the USA South tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Division III national tournament.

In Arnold, Claybrook is getting a complete player.

As a senior, Arnold played in every game, and she helped the Lady Tigers finish third in the Region 5-AAAA tournament to advance to the state playoffs for the second straight season.

Arnold was second on the team with a .388 batting average, and with her 15 walks, she had a .484 on-base percentage.

Arnold led the team with 24 runs scored, she was tied for third with 16 RBIs, and she had one of the team’s five home runs.

Arnold was also a terror on the base paths with 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts, and she was an exceptional defensive player.

“She’s worked so hard to get to this point,” Troup head coach Blair Shimandle said. “She’s constantly practicing, constantly trying to get better. This is a great decision for her softball wise. She’ll do well there. As far as school, this will set her up for the future.”

Arnold was part of a stellar senior class that included Libby Wheeler, Hanna Lane, Olivia Jones and Katie White.

Arnold, Wheeler and Lane were all four-year starters, and they helped the program make tremendous strides during those years.

Shimandle said it’s important for the other players on the team to see one of their own get a chance to play college softball.

“It’s big for the program,” Shimandle said. “It gives the other girls an opportunity to see that they can do it. They have that option.”

Shimandle, who was a standout player at Georgia Tech, also knows it’s not an easy decision for an athlete to make.

“It’s a tough decision for a girl to make,” she said. “You have to really commit. You have to be willing to commit to four years to do that.”

It’s a commitment that Arnold is eager to make, and she’ll be a part of the LaGrange College softball team in the spring of 2017.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports