By Dylan Wallace
For as long as Kendrick Sterling can remember, she wanted to play softball at the collegiate level.
When she was in the eighth grade, she would email college coaches about her playing career, starting that connection early.
It was this past July, when Sterling was playing in a showcase tournament for Finesse Fastpitch in North Ridgeville, Ohio, where she turned some heads. Since it was a showcase, college coaches were allowed to attend the games.
In one day, Sterling rocked three home runs over the fence — the first time she had ever hit that many homers in that short of span.
Ohio Dominican University softball coaches Marcella Vanlandingham (head coach) and Caitlin Gambone (assistant) knew they had to get Sterling on campus after that.
Just last Wednesday, on Aug. 11, Sterling took her official visit to Ohio Dominican.
“I loved everything about it,” Sterling said. “What honestly made it was the coaching staff. They were just awesome and their attitude was so awesome and was exactly what I was looking for.”
By the next night after her visit, Sterling talked things over with her parents and she knew she wanted to commit to be a Panther.
This past Tuesday, Sterling made it official, posting to social media a picture of herself in an Ohio Dominican softball shirt with the caption, “I’m going to Ohio Dominican! Can’t wait to be a Panther!!! #ClawsOut.”
“It felt so awesome,” Sterling said. “It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I mean, with this process, I’ve been through like three different coaching changes with programs I was looking at, so that changed a whole lot for me. But then Ohio Dominican came across and I was like, ‘yep, this is where I need to be.’”
Most fans in Jackson County will know Sterling for her performances on the mound for Seymour High School. Sterling usually starts to pitch a lot in the winter to get herself ready for the spring softball season.
But in travel ball, Sterling doesn’t pitch. She plays second base, and this summer, she took a step up at the plate.
“I feel like my defense is very strong,” Sterling said. “My coaches always tell me I have really great hands on defense. As for hitting, I’ve always been like a gap-to-gap hitter, but this past summer, my power game really came along and I started hitting a lot more home runs.”
With just one prep season left to go before she moves on to college, Sterling wants to accomplish a lot with the Owls.
Seymour won a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference this past spring, but came up just short in sectional play.
“We definitely want to win the conference again, preferably outright this time,” Sterling said. “And we want to go for that sectional win. That’s something we’ve been wanting. That would be very special in my senior year if we could do that.”
Whenever the prep season wraps up, Sterling will have one final travel ball summer — a shorter season than usual — before she heads to Ohio Dominican.
Sterling received a ton of support from her teammates on social media after announcing her commitment this week. Most of them congratulated her by calling her “Keck,” which was a nickname formed when she was younger when her twin sister, Camryn Sterling who is also committed to play in college at Iowa Western, couldn’t pronounce Kendrick’s name so it would come out as “Keck,” and the nickname always stuck.
As everyone showed their excitement for Keck, the Seymour senior couldn’t be more excited for the decision she made to play collegiately at Ohio Dominican.
“They just came off a big conference championship last season, and they went to NCAA Regionals, so they have a really good group coming back,” Sterling said. “I feel so excited and I can’t even believe it. It’s so awesome.”