Concord senior Lizzie White made it official this past Friday afternoon, signing to play softball for four more years at North Arkansas College located in Harrison before family and friends in Concord.
"It feels great to have this opportunity," exclaimed White. "Ever since I was a little kid, my dream has been to play college softball and now it is coming true."
White has put together quite the track record since taking the field for the Lady Pirates as a freshman, hauling in All-Conference, All-Region and All-State honors while helping guide Concord to two Class 1A state finals appearances and a 92-12 overall record, making the trip to Bogle Park in Fayetteville as a freshman for a 33-5 team before clinching a spot in the State Elite Eight as a sophomore on a 28-4 squad, advancing to the title game once again in 2018 and falling short to Taylor 2-1, going 31-3 on the campaign. The 2015 team also clinched their first ever trip to the finals, finishing 22-7.
"Being able to play at Concord is a great feeling," said the speedy five-tool player. "To play any sport at Concord is like playing with family because these girls become your biggest supporters. I can't wait for this season to start."
Northark softball coach Sychelle Mahoney, who attended College of the Ozarks alongside Concord softball coach Keith Cornett, proved to be the determining factor in White's decision to don the red and white.
"The biggest influence for me to go to Northark was Coach Mahoney. I started looking there when I realized they had a nursing program, but after visiting the campus and meeting Coach Mahoney I knew it was the perfect place for me."
White will join older sister Kendall, who is in her freshman season at Hendrix College in Conway, in the college ranks this upcoming fall, as the two provided a one-two punch from in the pitcher's circle and behind the plate, with Lizzie catching pitches from Kendall last season. The two sister's father, Greg, who coached the two girls from a young age, assisted the Lady Pirates this past spring. Both sisters have displayed their talents over the past summers, lacing up the cleats for travel ball as well as headlining key events when Lizzie played in the Junior-Sophomore Classic in Conway, right before Kendall participated in the AHSCA All-Star Game at UCA, with mother Kelli and younger sister Taylor showing their full support each and every game.
"Being able to follow in Kendall's footsteps of playing college softball while still maintaining my own individuality feels amazing. This is a dream we have shared for as long as I can remember and I am excited to be able to meet her on the collegiate level, and of course win."
Concord will look to make it four state finals appearances in five seasons in 2019, returning six starters while also bringing in a duo of talented junior transfers to add into the lineup to help the Lady Pirates' efforts at breaking through and bringing home the gold to Cleburne County.
"I feel like our chances are pretty good this year. We lost a lot with Kendall, Kaleah [Davis] and Macy [Morgan] but hopefully with what we add this year and the experience from last year we can learn and grow. I believe we have the best leadership around in terms of our coaches and we are going to work hard this year and hopefully get it done."
Adapting to a new school and town can prove to be a challenge for some, but White will have the advantage of joining forces with players she competed against last year, including Quitman graduate Josey Bradley, who moved up to Northark this semester, and Rose Bud senior Hailey Vaughn, all of whom played in state championship games at Benton High School.
"I think knowing some of my teammates going in will definitely make my transition easier. This is a new and scary chapter in my life, but I have tremendous support from my family and coaches so I am excited to start the journey."
"I would like to thank my family and my dad specifically. He has played a major role in why I am so successful. I would also like to thank all of my former coaches Adam Poe, Michael Strother and Keith Cornett for always pushing me to be better. I would like to thank Coach Mahoney for giving me this opportunity to compete at a more competitive level. And I would like to thank God because He is the reason any of this was possible."
The Lady Pioneers will get the ball rolling on the second half of their 2018-19 season with a double-header against Ecclesia College January 27.