TWIN FALLS — As Savannah Fitzgerald rose out of her seat to thank her family, friends and others, she struggled to get out the words as emotion overcame her.
The Twin Falls High School senior finally settled on a place to continue her softball career, and the moments after she signed her letter of intent proved to be just a bit too much.
Despite the tears, Fitzgerald had still inked her name, pledging to play softball at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash.
“It’s pretty special,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a while. A couple of my friends went through it last year, so it’s just cool to go through it this year.”
Fitzgerald was named second-team all-Great Basin Conference as a junior last season, as Twin Falls head coach Tonia Burk labeled her as a utility player, capable of filling any role for the Bruins.
She will likely play catcher and in the outfield during the two years she suits up for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald isn’t sure just yet if her playing career will continue after she attends Skagit Valley, but isn’t ruling it out.
Along with Skagit Valley, Olympic College, which is in the Cardinals’ conference and about 88 miles away, was a top choice for Fitzgerald. Lamar Community College in Colorado rounded out her top three choices.
The decision was made to attend Skagit Valley in early November, Fitzgerald said. There were a lot of factors thrown in the mix, she added, but in the end, she landed on the Cardinals.
“It was kind of just a gut feeling,” Fitzgerald said. “I actually got sick on my Olympic trip, so I kind of just thought it was fate that I was not meant to go there, so I chose Skagit.”
Burk believes the choice was a “sigh of relief” for her standout senior, who has been displaying plenty of self-motivation, not only during the college recruitment process, but in terms of finding ways to grow as a player.
Fitzgerald has improved by leaps and bounds, Burk said, and continues to demonstrate the determination to get better. “Grit” was the buzzword used by Burk to describe what Fitzgerald brings to the table.
The senior, who actually played football from the fifth grade through her sophomore year, is “tougher than nails,” her coach said.
“Anything that I’ve ever asked from her, she’s like ‘OK, coach, I can do it,’” Burk said. “That’s kind of what’s ‘grit’ about Savannah. Give her a task and she just jumps full speed and will run through a wall.”
Fitzgerald said the goal, now that her college decision is made, is to focus on the rest of her athletic career at Twin Falls, starting with the ongoing girls basketball season, then softball.
Her hope is that the Bruins, who went two-and-out at the 4A state tournament last season, can return to the playoffs and go as far as they possibly can. Having alleviated the pressure of deciding on her future, Fitzgerald believes she can help them do just that.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” Fitzgerald said. “I get to go through basketball, then softball will be done and I’ll go through it and have a great senior season, not having to worry about anything college-related.”