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LaGrange’s Vanhoose staying at home

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

When it was time to lace up the shoes and head to the softball field, LaGrange High’s Abby Vanhoose was always ready.

Vanhoose was LaGrange’s starting shortstop for the first game of her freshman season, and that’s where she could be found for every game over the next four seasons.

Vanhoose was a four-year starter and a key contributor for a team that enjoyed a lot of success over the years, and now she’s getting an opportunity to keep playing a game that means so much to her.

Vanhoose is heading to LaGrange College to join a softball program led by head coach Jennifer Claybrook, and she celebrated that decision last week with her friends, teammates, family members and coaches.

“I’ve been working for this since I was little,” Vanhoose said. “I always wanted to do this. It’ll be exciting.”

Vanhoose is looking forward to playing for Claybrook, who has led LaGrange College’s softball program for 18 seasons.

“I just met her this year, and she’s so energetic,” Vanhoose said. “I love her.”

LaGrange College is getting an exceptional, well-rounded player who excelled in the field, and at the plate.

Vanhoose, who played in 126 career games, had a career batting average of .363, and she was a rock defensively from the shortstop position.

“She’s had a great career here at LaGrange High School,” said LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath. “We’re very thankful that she chose to play for us.”

Vanhoose was a part of a six-person senior class that also included Camden Smith (West Georgia) and Abby Vanhoose (Georgia Highlands College), who are also getting a chance to play college softball.

The other seniors, Kirsten Williams, Malone Aldridge and Jacee Marable, were there last week to celebrate with their friends and teammates.

“They’re not just going to make impacts on the athletic field. They’re going to make impacts in the community,” Heath said of Vanhoose and the other seniors. “They’re going to make impacts in the class room. They’re going to be leaders. I can’t wait to see them as female leaders throughout their college careers.”

Vanhoose enjoyed plenty of individual and team success during her time at LaGrange.

As a senior, Vanhoose helped LaGrange win a region championship and advance to the semifinals of the state playoffs.

“It’s been so much fun,” Vanhoose said. “I can’t even think about it or I’ll start crying.”

While Vanhoose never really had to worry about someone taking her job in the lineup, she was committed to giving it her all every day.

“Of course we had to earn it,” Vanhoose said. “I knew at practice that even on my worst days I had to try hard.”