Laurel Pace is not only one of Alcoa High School’s most talented athletes, the senior softball standout is also one of its brightest students.
The Lady Tornado first baseman signed a National Letter of Intent with Virginia Intermont College on Tuesday at Alcoa. The Alcoa slugger will be an honors scholar at Intermont, where she plans to major in health sciences. She hopes to become a dentist, with any chance of medical school entering the equation pretty much a non-starter.
“I don’t think I can be a doctor because of the whole blood thing,” Pace said.
The Cobras are getting a middle-of-the-lineup hitter who can impact the game in a lot of ways, regardless. Pace hit for a .395 average for the Lady Tornadoes this season, collecting 15 RBI and stealing 18 bases along the way. Defensively, the tall, athletic Pace would commit only four errors at first base.
“I think she can have an immediate impact for us,” Intermont coach Eric Senter said.
What Pace can add offensively and defensively is reflected in the statistics she compiled this season, Senter said. What can’t be found there, he said, is a hard-nosed approach to the game that separates Pace from the rest.
“She’s not afraid to get dirty,” Senter said. “We’re just tickled to death to have her.”
Intermont has been pursuing Pace for two seasons, Senter said. That show of commitment, along with an official visit to the Bristol, Va., campus that couldn’t have gone better, helped make Tuesday an exciting day, Pace said.
The Cobras will likely keep Pace at first, but the athleticism she brings to the table sure makes him consider the possibilities, Senter said.
“Right now, we’re hunting for a shortstop, too,” he said, “so who knows?”