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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Neely inks with UCM

  • Despite having only played softball since her freshman year of high school, Crowder’s Jessica Neely is making plenty of progress in her young career.
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  • Despite having only played softball since her freshman year of high school, Crowder’s Jessica Neely is making plenty of progress in her young career.
    A standout for coach Lori Videmschek’s Lady ‘Riders as a freshman, Neely has chosen to continue her career at the next level, and signed a letter of intent with Division-II University of Central Missouri on Wednesday at Bob Sneller Gymnasium.
    A Nevada native, Neely came on strong for the Lady ‘Riders last year as she hit .403 in 221 at-bats with 19 doubles, 11 triples, four home runs and 51 RBI. She also stole 52 bases and turned in a .954 fielding percentage in the outfield.
    Neely said she’s always had her eye on playing for the Jennies.
    “I’m very happy,” Neely said. “I’ve kind of had my eye on UCM since I was in high school, so it’s kind of exciting to be able to go on and go to a bigger school.
    “Coach (Videmschek) has done a lot of work with me because I didn’t start playing softball until I was a freshman in high school. So when I got here I still needed a lot of work, and coach V has done a lot to get me better and get me where I am going now. I appreciate that.”
    Videmschek says she has no doubts Neely will do well at the next level.
    “That’s what Crowder is about is developing young kids and giving them a chance to play, making their academic careers better and giving them a chance to go on to that next level and play. She’s going to be able to step in and do well.
    “As a freshman last year she came in and led our team in hitting and had 52 stolen bases. She broke the record at Crowder in stolen bases. She pretty much did a great job (in) the outfield. She needed that. She needed to develop into a good player, and she is. She’s got a bright future ahead of her.”
    While also picking up the school record for stolen bases in a season, Neely also picked up NFCA/NJCAA first-team All-American honors in the process. Academics are also important to her, she says, and plans to coach some day when her playing career is finished.
    “UCM’s eyes are on a national championship,” Neely said. “They’re a very bonded team. They want to win. They have a really good education program. My academics are big to me. So that also helps.”
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