Columbus High senior Alyssa Turner officially signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Northeast Community College softball on Thursday afternoon.
Turner made it three Discoverers from the 2018 softball roster that gave official commitments to college programs in the past week.
Larisa Rother and Macee Trotta held signing ceremonies days earlier for Central Community College. Several times a year now, that duo will go from former teammates with Turner to rivals when the Hawks and Raiders meet on the diamond.
Before all that though, was Thursday and Turner's official ceremony for coach Iris Woodhead and Northeast. In conversations with Woodhead and other coaches in attendance, they all came back to Turner's heart and toughness.
"I'm really excited about it all," Turner said. I've talked to coach Woodhead quite a bit about it. It's just really exhilarating knowing the fact that I actually have a chance playing at the next level and possibly after that too."
Turner's ability to play at the next level was once in question months ago after a shoulder injury. She had the procedure before the varsity softball season and played the whole year despite not being quite 100 percent.
That sort of struggle through the pain is what Columbus coach Paul Braun said gave Turner an element of toughness.
"It's always a good feeling when the girls sign and get to the next level,"Braud said. "Obviously this makes our third one this year from our 2018 senior class. It's just another good feeling.
"The credit goes to the kids. They're the ones that put all the hard work into it. They're the ones that have got to deal with the late nights for classes and so forth. Getting back late from games and having homework. It's nice to see that their hard works pay off for them.
Turner put together an impressive resume in 2018 batting a .520 average, recording 50 hits with nine doubles and a triple, 20 RBIs and 32 runs scored.
"I think for Alyssa (Turner), No. 1 is a lot of heart," Braun said. "She struggled with a little bit of an injury this year. She had shoulder problems in the summer and had surgery. I think that shows her toughness. She loves the game so much. She puts her whole heart and soul into it.
"I think you get a kid that has a lot of softball intelligence. She understands the game. She understands things that are coming before they actually happen. I think between the heart that she has and the intelligence for the game are the biggest things that will carry her at Northeast."
Turner was a four-year starter for the Discoverers.
"Her desire to be the best she can, no matter what it is, no matter what she's doing. She's a competitor. She's courageous. She's just an all-around good kid," Braun added. "We've enjoyed having her for four years. She's been a four-year starter for us. She has the intangibles that you can't teach."
Turner started playing tee-ball when she was six years old and fast-pitch softball at eight.
Around the age of 12, her talent allowed her to play up an age group.
"My original plan was to go to Concordia, but then I figured out about the fast track program (at Northeast)," Turner said. "I just fell in love with their campus. My mom is an alumnus to Northeast too. I talked to the coach and I liked what they were going to offer me."
Turner said she is looking forward to the hard work and dedication of other players at the collegiate level.
Woodhead has been following the Discoverers for the last three years, but it was this past summer that Northeast started to pursue Turner.
"We look for a couple things with our recruits," Woodhead said. "No. 1 is character. When we watch Alyssa (Turner) on the field she doesn't care about anything but doing the right thing. That's big with us. She wants to work hard on the field. She's a good teammate, has great communication skill, all very good characteristics of having good character.
"She also has a tremendous amount of grit. Having should injuries, having whatever injuries she's had to battle back from takes a lot of grit. With our program only being four years old we're still trying to establish traditions, our culture and get to a respectable program. We build upon players like Alyssa (Turner) that have grit and character."
Woodhead is hoping that Turner can help Northeast right away.
"I think she can have that day-one impact with us. Being a two-year program we graduate a lot of players and bring in a lot of players," she said.
"It's always fresh. Each year it's a fresh experience or a fresh beginning for all of our players. With her grit, character and hard work I think she'll be able to make an impact day one."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com