There are always times in our lives when we ask ourselves, “Where do I fit in? Is this the right spot for me?”
For Ottawa High senior outfielder Cassie Turk, as far as finding a place to continue her athletic and academic career goes, those questions she feels have solid answers.
Last week, Turk officially signed a NCAA Division II Letter of Intent to play softball for Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia, after graduating in 2021. The Battlers will be new members in the 12-team Mountain East Conference this year. Alderson Broaddus, under second-year head coach Luke Shamblin, was 4-6 this past spring before COVID-19 forced the rest of the season to be canceled.
“I reached out to a number of different schools, and if they were interested, I would check to see if I felt they were a good fit for me academically and if they would be needing outfielders,” said Turk. “I started talking to coach Shamblin; he is such a laid back guy and someone I was comfortable talking to, and after about a month or so of conversations, he asked me to go there for a [June] visit.
“I went to West Virginia with a good feeling already, and when I got there I was like, ‘This is a really cool place.’ I told coach Shamblin before I left the campus to come back home that I wanted to go there and verbally committed.
“It was nice and a relief, I guess, to take that final step of officially getting to sign. Now I just want to continue to stay in good shape and keep improving in every part of the game moving forward.”
Turk, who plans on majoring in pre-law in hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense lawyer, hit .323 as a sophomore for the Lady Pirates, with two homers, two triples and 24 RBIs and was named All-Northern Illinois Big 12 Honorable Mention and to The Times All-Area Second Team.
“I believe with her skills, she is an easy plug-and-play anywhere in the outfield, plus she has a strong arm and tracks the ball well,” said Ottawa coach Adam Lewis. “From an offensive perspective, she had really worked on her timing and adjustments with her swing last offseason, and I was so excited to see what she was going to do before our season was canceled last spring. She has some power, and I really think she will also begin to hit for a higher average and will make contact at a much higher rate as she keeps working.
“I’m excited to see Cassie find the right fit for her, and I think Alderson Broaddus is getting a really nice player that’s going to fit in very well.”
Shamblin said the recruiting process was flipped upside-down because of the pandemic this offseason, but he feels he found exactly what he looks for in a player, student and person.
“From the shutdown in the spring until June 1, I wasn’t allowed to have any recruits here on campus, so all of my recruiting had solely been via Facetime, phone calls, me doing research and the players sending me video clips,” said Shamblin. “Cassie had sent me a couple emails, and as soon as June 1 arrived, she was one of the first ones that visited.
“I could see in the videos, I could tell her footwork in the outfield is going to be very good and she has length and athleticism. I was looking for, ‘Is she fundamentally sound in what she does?’ and I saw that.
“Softball aside, I could tell in our talks that she’s a good kid with good parents, and she is going to be a perfect fit for this program. I’m looking forward to her playing here.”