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by Chris O’Dell, Star Local

The Celina athletic program saw multiple athletes sign on at the college level recently, with a pair of basketball players and five members of the defending Class 3A state champion softball team headlining the event.

Seniors Kynzie Newman and Presley Stastny signed their national letters of intent with Abilene Christian University and Lipscomb University, respectively, to join each school’s basketball program.

“I think it’s big that they can get that pressure off and just go out and play without having to worry about it all year,” said Jordan Davis, head basketball coach.

Newman, also a member of the District 10-3A champion volleyball team, will be going to ACU strictly for basketball and Davis said the school fits the senior perfectly.

“Kynzie has been one of the best kids to coach that I could ever hope for,” she said. “I think ACU is a perfect fit for her and they’re going to be lucky to have her.”

Newman has been a part of the Lady Cat basketball program for all four years of high school. However, Stastny is in her first year as a Lady Bobcat.

“I know [Stastny] is a hard worker and that she comes from a basketball family,” Davis said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to coach her this year.”

The two players will make up a heavy core of seniors on the 2011-12 team. Davis said she expects six of the new nine players on this year’s roster to be part of the senior class.

“Senior leadership will be huge,” she said.

The team has already gotten off to a 2-0 start after defeating Gunter Tuesday night. The Lady Cats will be back in action tomorrow with a home game against Hebron.

The softball program will be in a similar situation at the start of its new season in February.

The defending state champions had five players sign on to play at the next level this month with senior Paige Mongillo as the only senior not moving on to college athletics.

Head softball coach Billy Coleman said Mongillo will attend the University of Arkansas, choosing not to pursue sports at the collegiate level.

Meanwhile, seniors Katelyn Drummond (Texas Women’s Univeristy), Shelby Carter (Midwestern State University), Taylor Norris (Arkansas-Monticello), Claudia Cantu (Louisiana Tech) and Lindsie Knowles (University of Memphis) chose to continue their softball careers after high school.

“The majority of them have been on the team since their freshman years,” Coleman said. “They are a huge part of this program.”

The six seniors helped make up the core that was able to complete last season’s goal of winning a state title after defeating West, 5-1, in the championship game.

Coleman said the five seniors that signed this month all made wise decisions in picking their future team.

“I think they all made good decisions and chose perfect fits for each of them,” he said. “It speaks volumes as far as their work ethic goes.”

With the new season set to begin Feb. 14 and practices to begin nearly three weeks prior, Coleman said the signings should motivate the younger players on the team to achieve the same goals that the six seniors have obtained.

“It should definitely motivate them,” he said. “After seeing this, they probably want to be just like those girls.”

 

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