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Signing day: Legacy sends five athletes to the college ranks

Marty Caivano
Rainey Gaffin, second from left, a softball player at Legacy High School who signed with Tennessee, waves to the crowd as she is announced at a NCAA signing event on Wednesday. With her, left to right, are student-athletes Kelsey Dempsey, Jessica Ball and Natasha Fomina.

With five girls inking letters of intent Wednesday night, Legacy kicked off the 2011-2012 with a strong class of athletes. But one program took center stage in the high school’s auditorium, during the early signing day ceremony.

The Lightning’s softball team continued to earn accolades nearly a month after collecting its fifth consecutive Class 5A state championship. The team had three girls move on, two to NCAA Division I programs.

“It’s exciting,” Legacy pitcher Rainey Gaffin said. “Looking back on the whole experience, it makes me smile.”

Gaffin was one of the team’s most high-profile recruits, pitcher/infielder signing with the University of Tennessee. And she was joined by two other key cogs in the Lightning recent dominance. Shortstop Jessica Ball committed to Division I University of Northern Colorado; Catcher Kelsey Dempsey signed on with Division III Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. While softball had the most recruits, it was far from the only sport to take the spotlight.

Kailey Edwards became the second Lighting basketball player to head to the University of Denver in recent years. And similar to 2010 graduate Quincey Noonan, the guard is expected to make her impact on the Pioneers backcourt. While more than satisfied with her choice, Edwards milked the most out of her recruiting experience.

“I wanted to go through the whole process, so I took four official visits,” Edwards said. “But in the end, Denver just fit me. I loved the team, I loved the location and the fact that my family gets to see me play is a bonus.”

Natasha Fomina also found what she described as a fit with her new program, with the outside hitter heading the Texas State University in San Marco, Texas. And more than anything, the hard-hitting senior just found a match between her and the college team’s mentality.

“It’s a very competitive program, which is what I was looking for,” Fomina said. “There the type of team that leave their hearts out on the court and that’s what they wanted from me.”