Two of the most prolific players from last summer’s formidable Ottumwa softball team will extend their careers beyond high school — and they will do it together.
Katie Sammons and Sammy Garrett, friends and long-time teammates, both signed letters of intent to play for Upper Iowa University Wednesday at a press conference at Ottumwa High School.
“I have played with Katie since we were little girls,” Garrett said. “We were recruited separately, but it will be nice to have someone there that I can turn to.”
The girls will join a Peacocks team that had more than its share of struggles last season, finishing with a 6-41 record. Hopefully, Sammons and Garrett will help Upper Iowa’s program get moving in the right direction.
Both girls said they were positively influenced by the atmosphere on campus.
“When I went to visit last spring, I walked around campus and I instantly felt like I wanted to go there,” Sammons said. “And after I met some of those people ... everyone there is like family and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that. It’s kind of one of those feelings when you know that it’s right for you.”
Garrett expressed a similar viewpoint.
“Right away when I got on campus, it was kind of a sense of comfort,” she said. “It’s a pretty small campus and I really liked that.”
In addition, Garrett received positive vibes from the Peacock coaching staff.
“The coaches were really welcoming right away,” she said. “That was a big deal to me. I felt comfortable on campus and with the coaches.”
Both girls also reported having positive interactions with their future teammates.
“They seem like a really nice group of girls and they all get along,” Sammons said. “So I’m really looking forward to being apart of that, too.”
“The [Upper Iowa girls] are great ... oh, really nice,” Garrett said. “I feel like I will be able fit in and be happy with the team and hopefully help on the softball field, too.”
Both girls have established impressive pedigrees while for the Bulldogs. Garrett is a two-time first team all state selection and was voted an all-conference CIML first team selection on three occasions.
She had an extraordinary junior season as the Bulldogs’ lead-off hitter. Garrett batted a team-leading .510 and set a school record with 71 runs scored on the year.
“We are very happy to have Sammy as a future member of our softball program,” Upper Iowa coach Anna Van Wetzinga said. “She brings a great combination of speed and power to our team. She has the capability to run down a ton of balls in the outfield.”
Garrett bashed five homers, 18 doubles and three triples last season. She also had a slugging percentage of .776 and stole 23 bases.
“She utilizes her exceptional speed to anchor the state’s best outfield from her center field position,” coach Frank Huston said.
Sammons provided Ottumwa with much of its offensive firepower last summer. In her junior season, she batted .450, cranked a team-high eight home runs and drove in 51 RBI.
“With Katie’s height and athleticism, she has a ton of natural power,” Van Wetzinga said. “We think she can be a great long ball threat at the plate, while challenging defenses with her ability to run the bases well.”
Sammons also is a solid outfielder who occasionally makes web-gem worthy catches.
“Great anticipation and speed allows Katie to make all the plays defensively,” Huston said.
Sammons was named second-team all state her junior season and she has twice been voted first-team CIML Metro all-conference.
“Sammons gives the Bulldogs the unusual combination of power, run production, and average in their clean-up position in the batting order,” Huston said.