SPRING CREEK — Despite some major setbacks due to COVID-19, Elko County keeps cranking out collegiate commitments.
Although Spring Creek High School only played six games during the 2019 softball season before being shut down, the Lady Spartans can now say they will have at least three of their five seniors continue their playing careers.
Senior Patience Swafford will join Shawnee Walters-Haas — who signed with Utah State University Eastern, in Price — and Hailey Watson (committed to Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky) in her own collegiate softball pursuit.
Swafford has committed to Northland College, a Division-III program, in Ashland, Wisconsin.
During the 2019 season, the Lumberjills posted a 2-14 overall record before their season was shut down prior to league play of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Ashland — a town with a population of slightly more than 8,200 during the 2010 census — is located in the northern portion of Wisconsin along a port of Lake Superior — approximately 200 miles northeast of Minneapolis and about 250 miles northwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Swafford was contacted in January by Northland head coach Tiffany Hudack, who wants her to pitch for the Lumberjills.
Due to coronavirus, Swafford was unable to make an official visit but did so from afar during this uncertain, distanced time period.
“I made a virtual visit online and I loved it. I chose Northland because I liked how the school is private, and it’s a small school so it gives more time for teachers to be one-on-one with students,” Swafford said.
While at Northland, Swafford will study medicine.
As for softball, Swafford — a left-handed pitcher — has set some goals for herself in the circle and with her mindset.
“My goal for softball when I transition to college is to be able to throw a faster fastball and learn to be more mentally tough,” she said. “My personal goals are to never give up and keep reaching for my goals as each one comes my way.”
Coach Sandi Moon’s Thoughts
“Patience is an amazing young lady. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach her. She only had one season of pitching experience when I stepped in as head coach for the Lady Spartan program. As a coaching staff, we recognized her potential to help our team as many hitters struggle at the high school level with left-handed pitchers,” said Spring Creek softball coach Sandi Mon.
“She stepped in a couple of times last year as a backup pitcher and did well. She worked hard during the summer to increase speed and develop her pitches,” Moon said. “Patience will transition well to college ball because she is coachable. She listens, works hard and is a team player. I look forward to seeing Patience flourish at the next level. The Lady Spartan softball team will miss her next season.”
High School Career
Swafford was a two-year varsity player for the Spartans, her first season on the varsity coming in 2019.
In the circle, she posted a 5.83 earned-run average — striking out six batters and walking seven — allowing seven runs (five earned) across six innings.
With her bat, she hit .263 with a .417 on-base percentage — notching five hits in 19 at-bats — driving in three runs and scoring four, going for her lone double in an 11-1 loss during the 3A North regional tournament to Fallon on May 9, 2019, at Newton Field, in Elko.
Opportunities were limited during her virus-shortened senior season, but Swafford and Spring Creek celebrated their lone victory of the year with a 12-2 win over Wells on March 6, 2020, during the Sherm Bennett Desert Winds Memorial Tournament, in Mesquite.
In the contest, Swafford hit 1-for-3 and scored a pair of runs.
Down The Road
Swafford said she must report to Northland at the end of August and will live on campus in a dorm, the Lumberjills beginning their softball workouts “sometime in September.”
Congratulations to Patience Swafford for her commitment to Northland College, and best wishes as she attempts to flourish against opposing hitters and in her studies.
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