Gateway’s Emma Kennedy commits to Slippery Rock for softball

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Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Emma Kennedy is a rock behind the plate for her high school and club softball teams.

Now, the Gateway senior hopes to be rock solid for The Rock at the next level.

Kennedy will soon realize a dream of playing college softball. She finalized a commitment last Wednesday to join the team at Slippery Rock.

She and dozens of other Division I and II commits from throughout Western Pennsylvania signed on the dotted line on the first day of the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent early-signing period.

“I am just so excited this day is here,” Kennedy said. “I can’t wait to get started. It’s a big relief that it is finally set.”

Kennedy said she looked into Division I Oakland, but nothing materialized. She also checked out what Division II Seton Hill and Division III Trine (Ind.) had to offer.

But in the end, Slippery Rock checked off all the boxes.

After a campus visit over the summer, Kennedy gave a verbal commitment.

“Coach (Stacey) Rice took me everywhere we could go,” Kennedy said. “As soon as I got on campus, I knew that’s where I wanted to go. I knew it was where I belonged.

Kennedy said Julia Nutter, a senior at Ursuline (Ohio) High School near Youngstown, a former club teammate with the Ohio Outlaws and a fellow Slippery Rock commit, helped push Kennedy to commit to The Rock.

Kennedy attended one of Rice’s softball camps at Slippery Rock in February before the coronavirus pandemic.

“I loved everything about it,” she said.

Slippery Rock started its 2020 season 6-12 but was beginning to find its way in the first couple weeks of March. That’s when the pandemic turned everything upside down and forced the cancellation of all spring sports seasons.

At the same time, the Gateway softball team was in full-gear preparation for its season. After all team activities initially were suspended, the PIAA canceled the spring season.

“That was tough because everything was coming together for our best season since I’d been here,” said Kennedy, who earned Section 2-5A first-team honors as a sophomore in 2019 and helped the Gators qualify for the playoffs.

“Our team was set to do great things. I really wish we could’ve played because I was so excited for what we could’ve done.”

Kennedy joined the Pittsburgh Lady Roadrunners 18U Gold club team this fall, and over the weekend of Nov. 7-8, she helped the group capture the Revolution Pumpkin Smash Showcase with a 5-0-1 record.

For all Division I and II sports except Division I basketball and Division I and II football, athletes now are able to sign any day through Aug. 1.

The early signing period for Division I basketball also began last Wednesday, but it ends this week. A regular signing period runs from April 14 to May 19.

Athletic director Don Holl said no other Gateway seniors had signed a letter of intent before the deadline for this week’s edition.

Football recruits, including Gators’ star Derrick Davis (LSU), take center stage with an early signing period from Dec. 16-18. The traditional regular period for football starts Feb. 3.

“This is an exciting culmination of a process where kids dedicate themselves, sacrifice a lot and spend a lot of time working on their sport in the hopes they can continue to play it in college,” Holl said.

“When they earn the chance to play at the next level, and they put pen to paper, and it’s real, that is cause for a big celebration. This is definitely a positive thing in what has been some challenging times.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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