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Tough Choice Leads to Sabrina Di Vito’s NLI

The path to success isn’t always an easy or smooth one. And sometimes you have to make some tough choices along that path to achieve your goals.

That’s what happened with Sabrina Di Vito a few years ago. The decision definitely paid off last week when she signed her National Letter of Intent (NLI) to continue her softball career with Marian University in Wisconsin. But it didn’t come without some soul-searching.

Sabrina is a talented athlete who loves both fastpitch softball and basketball. And is very good at both.

While that is a plus in most cases – I personally believe in the multi-sports athlete – it can be a little tough to play basketball at a high level and still find all the time needed to develop as a pitcher.

I’ve worked with Sabrina since she was 10. Our typical pattern was she would do lessons in the spring, summer, and early fall. Then basketball would kick in and I wouldn’t see her again until the following spring.

She would pitch well during the season, but had pretty much hit a plateau in terms of greater development. For example, she could throw a fastball with good speed, along with a changeup, and drop, but it was tough to move beyond those three pitches because the main focus was making sure she was ready to perform that weekend.

Then one day at the end of the summer before her freshman year Sabrina and her mom/catching partner Brandy told me that they had come to a conclusion: as much as Sabrina loved basketball and would continue to play, they had decided to prioritize softball which meant I would be seeing her throughout the winter as well.

A rare shot of the whole family in one place!

Needless to say I was delighted, because I felt like we’d finally have the chance to find out just how good Sabrina could be. I knew she’d set aside time not just for the lessons but for the homework that would come with it. That’s just who she is.

Well, it didn’t take long for that decision to start paying off. Sabrina started gaining more speed, and added a curve and rise to her arsenal of pitches.

And suddenly she started turning into a pitcher who could dominate hitters on a regular basis. In fact, in 2022 she set the single-season record for most wins by a softball pitcher at her high school – a school that has been around for more than 50 years!

She did very well in travel ball this summer too as part of a pitching troika that helped her Illinois Sluggers-Harms team win a lot of ballgames. Then this fall when two of three legs of that pitching stool were injured for a bit, she stepped up again as the workhorse, throwing game after game and getting stronger as she went.

All of which contributed to a lot of fun culminating in her signing her NLI.

The choice of school, by the way, was driven by the best reasoning too. Sabrina wanted to play college softball, but when she’s done playing she wants to be a nurse.

Those two goals are often mutually exclusive, unfortunately, due to the workload of a nursing program and the demands of college softball. But Marian is known for its willingness to work around the nursing schedule, enabling deserving players like Sabrina to continue to play as they pursue their career goals.

One other fun fact about Sabrina is how unshakably even-keeled she is – an awesome trait for a pitcher. It’s not just how when I give her a piece of instruction she just smiles, says ok, and does it.

Sometimes, just to see if I can get a rise out of her, I will say something that is, shall we say, more like what an “old school” type of coach might say.

Doesn’t bother her in the least. She gets the best of me on that every time by just saying “ok” or “uh-huh” and going on about her business.

In fact I’m told she finds it funny so at least I’m keeping her amused! So it’s a good thing she’s very self-motivated to be the best she can be.

In any case, congratulations Sabrina on securing your ticket to the next level. I’m glad when you reached the fork in the road you chose the one that led to softball.

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Congratulations to Allison Musgrove for Signing at Marian University

Allison Musgrove signing day

This is the type of post I always love to write because it means someone has fulfilled a goal. So today I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Allison Musgrove, who plays for Harvard High School and the McHenry County Heatwave, for officially signing to play softball next year at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Allison is a terrific pitcher and hitter. Although she isn’t very big, her pitches and bat pack a wallop!

Unlike many of my students who start with me young, Allison was already in high school when we started working together. Her former pitching coach (whose daughter I also taught back in the day) had left the area and she and her parents Vern and Crystal were looking for a replacement. Fortunately they were given my name.

Allison actual signing

Mom and dad are all smiles.

One of the fun things is Allison and I hit it off instantly. We bonded on our love of Star Wars, comic book characters (she is a huge Marvel fan) and other nerdy pop culture.

I love the fact that when I made one of those references, either to illustrate an instruction point or just in general conversation, she actually got it without explanation. Still need to get her watching the DC TV shows on the CW, but all in good time.

Allison has always had a tremendous work ethic to go with her talent, which makes lessons fun. She pays close attention and works hard at the things I assign her.

She is also a perfectionist, which can work against her at times, leaving her frustrated when something doesn’t come right away. But she pushes through it, largely because she has such a great attitude. Even when she is having a little trouble it doesn’t take much to get her to smile again.

Of course, a lot of that is due to tremendous parenting. Both Crystal and Vern are always there with words of encouragement and support. They raised a polite, respectful, yet fun daughter who can take some ribbing and give it right back.

One of my favorite success stories is about her hitting. Originally I only worked with her on pitching. But one day she asked if we could work on hitting too since she’d been struggling.

We worked on her hitting and it started to come around. First with some hard outs, then singles here and there, and finally consistent hits with extra base hits, including a few home runs.

Allison has come a long way since we first met. Marian University has definitely made a smart decision in signing her.

I wish her luck, and am letting her know publicly that Fond du Lac isn’t that far from home for me. I plan on coming out to see her play in 2021 – but probably not until toward the end of the season when the weather is hopefully a little warmer.

Congratulations, Allison! You earned it!

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