By Ray Hamill — Another key member of last season’s historic McKinleyville treble winning softball team is taking her game to the collegiate level.
Shortstop Lexi White recently verbally committed to play at Santa Barbara Community College, joining several of her former teammates in continuing their careers after high school.
And for White it was an unexpected turn of events that led her to make the decision.
“I wasn’t going to play after high school,” she admitted. “But after the season got canceled, I decided I wanted to keep playing.”
White, one of the top defensive players in the Big 5 over the past couple of seasons, played a pivotal role in leading the 2019 Panthers to a Big 5, H-DNL tournament and North Coast Section treble.
She follows in the footsteps of former teammates Grace Rosebrook and Jaycee Morais at College of the Redwoods and Jada Bailey at Lassen College, while fellow senior Mikayla Minton will play at Linfield College next year.
White, who wants to major in nursing, didn’t think she would be able to balance softball and her studies, but changed her mind after her senior season was canceled last month, deciding she didn’t want her career to end that way.
“I didn’t get to play my senior season, so I decided to keep playing,” the McKinleyville senior said.
And after considering a few options, most notably in Washington and Utah, she found what she was looking for at Santa Barbara.
“They have a nursing program, and they told me I could do both,” she said. “Everything fell into place.”
She admits missing out on one final high school campaign was tough to take.
One year after playing such a key role in the Panthers’ success, this year the veteran infielder was looking forward to leaving her mark on the program in a different way.
“I was really upset about it,” she said. “We had a lot of freshmen on this year’s team and I wanted to be a leader for them and help the program.”
White, who also plays volleyball, became friends with some of the freshmen players during the fall season and was looking forward to continuing that on the softball field.
She says she will remember the time she spent with her teammates as much as the tremendous success they enjoyed together.
“I’ll remember all the friendships I made there,” she said of her time at Mack. “Last year we were super close. We were all super close friends and we all got along. There was no drama. It’s going to be really hard to replace that team.”
For now, White is more than happy with her decision to keep playing, and will consider her options once again after her time at Santa Barbara.
She certainly has the talent to continue playing at a four-year program if she decides to.
“Basically I’m going to play for two years there and maybe when I transfer if a coach wants me to play I’ll consider it,” she said. “But I want to focus on my education.”
White also has played for the Mad River MIST summer travel team, which has prepared numerous local players for the college game.