CHARLESTON — Charleston High School softball player Natalie Gordon took a visit to Illinois Wesleyan. Then she took a visit to Olney Central College. She thought Illinois Wesleyan had a good program and former teammate Ally O'Dell is at Olney. Then Gordon went to a showcase over the summer at Lake Land College and met coach Nic Nelson.
It didn't take long for Gordon to see herself as an outfielder at Lake Land, and she's since committed to play for the Lady Lakers softball team next season.
"I liked the showcase a lot and I liked Nic a lot, and I liked the girls and I fell in love with Lake Land on first sight," Gordon said. "I am really excited. They have a very intense program, and I am excited to play softball at the (collegiate) level. Now I don't have to stress about it and I get to enjoy my senior year."
Even though Gordon was in Charleston, Nelson hadn't seen her play until this summer. It didn't take Nelson long to figure out Gordon could be a key player in Lake Land's outfield.
"Natalie is one we started looking at this summer, and it didn't take long to see her talents," Nelson said. "She has a lot of speed, a good bat and she covers ground in the outfield. She will add speed to the lineup and she will help beef up the outfield."
Gordon has been the starting center fielder for Charleston and bats at the top of the lineup for Blain Mayhall's squad. Gordon batted .370 for Charleston this past season. She feels she can have an impact right away at Lake Land, and even though she enjoys playing center field, she's willing to play any three of the outfield spots.
"I think I will make a pretty big impact in the outfield. I know they bring in really good athletes, and I am excited to play with good athletes that enjoy the sport," Gordon said. "I like left field, too. I like anywhere really. It doesn't have to be center field."
Lake Land has a strong outfield returning this season with Alina Lance, Haylee Short and Addison Baele. All three earned different honors last season, but all three are sophomores this season.
Gordon said she thinks she can jump into Lake Land's system and fill one of the outfield spots.
"Nick said he cares for hard workers because that's what he values: hard workers that will do anything and that are versatile and can do different things," Gordon said. "I can hit and play small ball and I cover a lot of ground in the outfield."
Nelson said Gordon will be one of the freshmen he could rely on to fill one of those big holes in the outfield next season.
"We've got a really good outfield this year with three returning starters, so we are looking for that incoming freshman class to keep it going," Nelson said. "We need the defense and we need someone that can also do it with the offense, and she does both of those things."