ELYRIA - The batterymates who sparked Elyria to softball state finals the last two seasons signed national college letters of intent Wednesday.
After playing as teammates on four different teams for more than half their lives, pitcher Megan Bashak and catcher Jen Bower will part company to play college ball.
Bashak, a southpaw, is going to Division I Cleveland State, where her coach will be Angie Nicholson, a former Elyria High catcher. Bashak committed verbally to CSU last January. Bower, one of the Pioneers` most reliable hitters, will attend Division II Mercyhurst in Erie, Pa.
The signing took place in the office of principal Dianne Quinn in front of family, Pioneers coach Ken Fenik and athletics director Jerry Chizmar.
"I didn`t think Mercyhurst was a good idea until I went to the campus," Bower said. "I fell in love with the place." Bower, also a four-year volleyball player, plans to be a business major, possibly in accounting.
Bower, who`s also a four-year varsity volleyball player, will take a .320 career batting average into her senior season after batting .370 last year. In three years, she ripped 26 doubles, five triples and two home runs. A tough defensive player, she earned the team`s Hard Knocks award after starting and playing all 34 games in 2006.
Bashak will major in early-childhood education, an area of interest, but wants to become an athletic trainer. While CSU does not offer that major, Bashak will take courses in that field and prepare for the state exam as a trainer.
"We were playing indoors at Cleveland State last year, and I just liked the campus," Bashak said.
Bashak, also an infielder, has a three-year pitching record of 39-7, with 351 strikeouts and just 53 walks in 312 innings. She crafted an 0.87 earned run average last spring, her best. Her career ERA is 1.60. She also has a .311 career batting average, with 11 doubles, 13 triples and two home runs.
Bashak was the Pioneers` No. 1 pitcher in 2006 and 2007 when they advanced to the Division I state championship game. Elyria lost to North Canton Hoover 2-0 in the 2006 title game and to Hudson 4-0 last spring. The 20007 team became the first from Lorain County to play in state championship games two years in a row.
Even after pitching in back-to-back title games, Bashak`s most vivid memory came in 2002 when Elyria won the state championship behind the pitching of Aubrey Oliver. Bashak was in junior high school.
"It was watching Aubrey all year, going to the state tournament and actually getting to sit in the dugout with the team," Bashak said. "I always said after watching Aubrey pitch in the state championship game that I wanted to go there and do it."
Bower`s most memorable moment occurred when she was a freshman.
"We were in the regionals and we were playing Toledo St. Ursula," Bower said. "I was up with like two outs and we kept having delays because of the rain. We were on the bus and I was so upset and scared. But everyone just picked me up. I wasn`t scared anymore because they showed me how we were like a family."
Both players have won numerous awards at several levels, and Bower has also won volleyball awards. The softball team had an 84-14 record (.857) during the four years Bashak and Bower played.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.