By Greg Gulas
Lakeview High School has added two more student-athletes to its list of college signees with softball standouts Avrey Steiner finalizing her intention to attend the University of Illinois and teammate Tori Wells committing to the University of Findlay.
The girls signed their national letters-of-intent Friday at the school, joining classmate Annie Pavlansky who announced Wednesday that she would be attending Kent State University in the fall to play basketball for the Golden Flashes.
Steiner and Wells had made verbal commitments to their schools during their sophomore year.
“I visited Penn State University, Syracuse and Ohio State and really liked all three schools, but once I stepped onto the University of Illinois’ campus everything just seemed to click for me,” Steiner said. “Their softball team is growing and they have an excellent academic reputation as I hope to major either in accounting or business.”
A second baseman-shortstop for the Bulldogs, Steiner already has earned three letters under the watchful eye of head coach Vickie Lawrence and was named all-state honorable mention in Division II the past two seasons. She is a three-time All-American Conference White Tier and all-county selection, and a two-time all Northeastern Ohio pick.
“Coach Lawrence has taught me a lot, providing valuable insight about the game and life skills,” Steiner said. “She has helped both Tori in many ways, especially with travel ball as she cautions us to always be patient.”
An Ohio “Scholar Athlete Award” recipient and National Honor Society member, Steiner carries a 4.0 cumulative grade point average, scored 27 on her ACT and is one of six candidates under consideration for class valediction this spring.
She was named team ”Most Valuable Player” after batting .606 as a freshman, following that up with a .570 batting average (she also scored 38 runs) as a sophomore and last season, batted .653 with 40 runs scored.
This past summer, she helped lead her Beverly Bandits travel team to the Premier PGF national championship (in Huntington Beach, Calif.) and the Triple Crown national title in Austin, Texas.
A member of the Bulldogs’ volleyball squad, she earned back-to-back all-district Division II honors the past two seasons.
“Illinois head coach Tyra Perry told me she was looking for a player to bring a renewed energy and new culture to the program and that was what wanted to hear,” Steiner said. “I am excited and looking forward to being a part of the Illini softball program.”
A first baseman with a 3.3 overall g.p.a., Wells earned all-state second-team laurels last season as a junior and is a two-time AAC and all-county selection.
She was an all Northeast District pick last year, earning honorable mention honors as a sophomore and is looking forward to playing for Oilers’ head coach Danielle Lowe.
“I’m glad that the recruiting process is finally over. It’s a big relief and now I can just concentrate on my senior year,” Wells said. “Avery’s father, Jeff, really helped me with the University of Findlay.
“He made the call to coach Lowe and she came to watch me play. She invited me to one of her camps and that’s when I made my verbal commitment. I cannot thank Mr. Steiner for all that he has done for me. He’s been like my dad and I wouldn’t be going to Findlay without his help.”
Wells plans on becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer.
“In addition to having an excellent softball program, they are excellent academically and that was big for me,” she said. “Coach Lawrence has also made my high school softball experience fun and special.”
Last season, Wells batted .625 with eight home runs and 27 runs batted in, hitting .452 with three homers and 25 RBIs as a sophomore as the Bulldogs advanced to the regional semifinals.
This past May 1, she was named MaxPreps/NFCA “National Player of the Week” after hitting five home runs and adding 11 RBIs over a two-game stretch.
Her summer travel team is Thunder Elite fast-pitch.
“Both Avrey and Tori are a coach’s dream. They are talented softball players, but they’ve also added a lot to our group as leaders,” Lawrence said. “They work hard, lead by example and are just a joy to be around.
“They will go far in whatever field they choose to go into and will play a very important role in their respective college softball programs. As a coach, you don’t get two players like this very often.”