By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
In every coach’s career, there are moments when they’re ready to write a play off before it’s ended.
Those are the moments when Kevin Wise is happy to have a player like McNary High School’s Dani Saunders.
“Dani never quits. She was the one who made the plays when we had already written them off. She’s going to give it all she has,” Wise, Celtic head coach, said.
Saunders is set to sign a letter of intent to continue her softball career at Willamette University Friday, March 14.
“Last summer, I met the coach, Damian Williams, and he’s a really cool guy and made me feel really comfortable. I knew that we would be sympatico as far as the way he runs his team,” Saunders said.
For Saunders, the opportunity to play softball is a bonus to her actual reason for choosing Willamette: its law school.
“They have a really good law program and, if all the stars align, I want to be a corporate lawyer,” she said. “I looked at a few schools on the east coast, but I would rather stay close to my family if I can get that good education.”
Saunders, who played as a freshman on both the softball and volleyball varsity teams, makes her presence known in ways that Wise is happy to support.
“On our team, she’s a leader, but she does it in the right way. She’s positive about all of it and pumps up her teammates.” Wise said.
Saunders plays third base for the Celtics, but will likely make the switch to outfield as a Bearcat. Wise doesn’t think she’ll have any problem with the transition.
“That’s one of those positions you can’t really teach. There’s a natural reaction to the ball that helps in that role, and Dani has it,” he said.
Whether it’s talking about the athletes filling out McNary’s 2014 roster or what she’s looking forward to most about Willamette, Saunders gravitates to the same answer.
“I just like meeting new people, and a lot of the team at Willamette is coming up from southern California. That’s what I’m looking forward to most,” she said.