SPRING CREEK – Spring Creek head coach Chad Nelms and his wife, Andi, have already sent one of their children to the University of Jamestown.
Better change that number to two.
Spring Creek senior softball player Paige Nelms has chosen to play at the University of Jamestown as well, following the lead of older brother and Elko High School Class of 2009 graduate Steven Nelms – who played football for the Jimmies.
“Jamestown was always her first choice and first in her heart,” Chad Nelms said. “I tried to steer her away from it at first, because she doesn’t like it when it’s 40 degrees here. It’s really cold there, but they have built a really good softball program.”
“The indoor facility is really nice, and the school is a lot nicer than some of the other ones we visited,” said Paige Nelms.
A four-year starter for the Lady Spartans, Paige Nelms showed her promise as a freshman, hitting .329 with four doubles and three triples, driving in 14 runs.
Her growth continued as a sophomore, making a major addition to her game – the long ball.
She finished second on the team with six home runs, 28 RBIs and a .649 slugging percentage, batting .351 with five doubles and earning an honorable mention for the Division I-A North awards.
In 2017, she turned in her best season yet – ascending to new heights – leading the Lady Spartans in nearly every offensive category with a .533 batting average (fifth in the league), a .607 on-base percentage and .866 slugging percentage (both fourth in the league), 40 hits, 26 runs scored, 10 doubles and three triples.
Her speed on the bases served as a major weapon, stealing 23 bags (fourth in the league) – leading second place on the team by eight swipes.
She ranked second on the roster with three home runs and fourth with 19 runs batted in – selected to the Division 3A North 2nd-Team.
“I think her biggest improvement has been in her power game, but her approach at the plate has gotten a lot better too,” Chad Nelms said. “With two strikes, she has been willing to sacrifice power for contact and put the ball in play wherever she needs to.”
Posting such impressive offensive numbers was really remarkable considering the responsibility she inherited in a new role defensively; moving from the outfield to shortstop after Spring Creek graduated seven of nine starters.
“Jamestown said they want me to play outfield in college,” she said. “I don’t know if they want me in left, right or center yet though.”
The Nelms’ are very impressed with how much out-of-season work Jamestown puts in with the softball program.
“They do fall stuff in Las Vegas and their preseason workouts are in Arizona,” said Chad Nelms.
In preparation for her senior season at Spring Creek High School, Nelms competed with a USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) travel ball team, coach Nelms calling the USSSA the “highest level of travel ball.”
“She got a lot of good exposure in Sacramento (California) and Elk Grove (California),” coach Nelms said.
Aside from team goals of qualifying for the postseason and competing for championships, Paige Nelms noted a few of her personal ambitions as well.
“I don’t want to make any errors in the field, I want to be a contender for the MVP and have a higher batting average,” she said.
While the decision to attend Jamestown continues a family tradition, the location carries a price. “I would have liked her to be a little closer,” said Andi Nelms. “Our son went there, but we got to see a lot more of the facilities during her visit, so I feel better about the decision.”
While at Jamestown, Paige Nelms will study elementary education and said she will go “wherever it takes me or wherever jobs come open.”
Congratulations to Paige Nelms on her early decision to attend the University of Jamestown, and best of luck to her, coach Nelms and the Lady Spartans in the upcoming softball season.