Friday, November 18, 2011

Sutton’s dedication pays off

AMHERST — If there’s one word to describe Amherst senior Jen Sutton, it would be confident.

In fifth grade Sutton told coach Bill Matthews she was going to pitch for him one day. She also told her parents that she wanted to go to college and play Division I softball.

After years of hard work and dedication, Sutton reached all of her goals.

After verbally committing to South Dakota State University last year, Sutton officially signed her National Letter of Intent on Tuesday to play for the Jackrabbits next year on a full-athletic scholarship.

Sutton was noticed in a tournament in Chicago while playing summer ball for the Lasers Scarlett team two summers ago. There Sutton met then-head coach Joanna Lane. Sutton said she felt really good about what Lane told her and decided later to verbally commit during her sophomore year.

Things got a little complicated when Lane stepped down as coach after last season. Sutton said she didn’t know at first what was going to happen when new coach took over, but Aggabao told Sutton she still wanted her.

Sutton said she was still happy with her decision after talking to Aggabao.

“The new coach is younger and is nice,” Sutton said. “She’s very easy to relate to and that’s what I like about her.”

Playing Division I softball was something Sutton always wanted, according to her parents Mike and Kay Sutton.

Mike said his daughter was so dedicated that he decided to build their own batting cage, which he jokingly called the ‘Torture Chamber.’ From there Sutton spent hours practicing when she wasn’t playing in games, when she finally made the Comets’ varsity team as a freshman.

Sutton hit the ground running, going 14-1 on the mound, while batting .280. She was voted first team all-district and honorable mention for All-Ohio. She followed that up 12-7 with 190 strikeouts as a sophomore. Last season, she went 15-5 with 168 strikeouts and was first team all-district and second team All-Ohio.

Sutton said she is eager to get her senior season underway and added she can’t wait to play at the next level.

“I’m excited to prove myself and earn my spot on the field,” Sutton said. “I’m going to work my hardest, and hopefully I can contribute as a freshman.”

Sutton’s father Mike said all the practices, games and traveling paid off.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Mike Sutton said. “We got to travel the entire country every weekend all summer long.

“Some people thought we were crazy, but we’ve been to Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia and Chicago, and we got to spend time as a family, so it was worth it.”

Sutton’s mother Kay said she is very proud of what she has accomplished.

“She decided at a very young age that this is what she wanted,” Kay Sutton said. “She told us when she was in 5th grade that she wanted to go to college and play softball and she wanted to play Division I. She set her mind to it and she gave up a lot.

“She missed a lot of dances, she missed a lot of social events in order to practice. She’s a very well-rounded girl, though, very outgoing, very personal.”

Kay said she was a little uneasy knowing her daughter was going to be so far away (roughly 930 miles), but feels a lot better after a recent trip to the school.

“It was a little scary until we visited the campus and met the people there,” Kay said. “It’s a wonderful place.”

Sutton said she’s not too worried about the distance.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for me,” Sutton said. “I’m excited about it, I think it will be good.”

Matthews said what makes Sutton such a great player is her versatility. Not only is Sutton a pitcher, but she can also play every infield position.

“By the time she was in eighth grade I knew she had the potential to play at any level,” Matthews said. “Once you get to that point, it’s just a matter of being seen by somebody, and that’s where summer ball comes in. She was able to play for the Lasers and get that recognition, playing all over the country.”

courtesy of Anthony Rios

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