The senior catcher will continue her career with the Division II program in North Dakota.
Colleen Crutchfield likes to write on her hands, but Nov. 18 her pen was directed towards a much more important canvas: her letter of intent.
Thats when the Canby High School senior finalized her decision to continue her softball career at the University of Mary, a small private school near Bismarck, N.D.
It feels great, she said after signing the paperwork. Its a huge accomplishment, knowing that I worked hard for this. All the years of driving out to Estacada, missing out on birthdays, its really paid off.
The standout catcher will join a U-Mary program that competes in Division II as a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Last season, the Marauders posted a 24-19 overall record and a 13-11 tally against league opponents.
Crutchfield will play under the tutelage of coach K.J. Kelley, an Oregon native who played high school softball at Rainier. Kelley was an All-American at the University of Massachusetts and recently took the coaching post at U-Mary after assistant gigs at the universities of Toledo and Vermont.
According to Crutchfield, Kelley was considering coaching her area club team before taking the position in North Dakota.
Shes a great person, shes a great coach and she knows a lot, Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield adds to a list of recent Division II softball players from Canby that also includes Mary Depner (Hillsdale College), Nicole Friedemann (West Virginia Wesleyan), Kaycee Hoffman (Montana State-Billings) and Emily Kenagy (Western Oregon).
A fixture behind the plate for the Cougars, Crutchfield has also played on several club teams throughout her career. Shes recently competed with the Oregon Thunder and the Northwest Crimson Tide, but she was a member of the Oregon City Magic for many years before that.
And according to Mike Bilyeu, who coached the Magic at the time, her potential was already apparent.
Colleens always been a hard worker and an extremely good softball player, he said. Since 9 years old, shes been working at the skills and, obviously, now its paying off. Im very proud of her. And Im as proud about the softball as I am about the young lady shes become.
Ironically, Crutchfield said she realized she had college-level talent at a point when she was more likely to be found in the dugout.
My sophomore year, I was on a club team and I didnt get very much playing time, she said. But everybody always told me, You should be playing right now. They all came up to me. Other college coaches said, Youre an amazing player. You could play right now. That boosted my confidence.
Did it ever.
Crutchfield was a first-team all-league catcher as a Canby sophomore in 2012, tallying 56 putouts, 14 assists and a .972 fielding percentage that season. She received second-team all-conference recognition as a junior last year.
Crutchfield said her life on the diamond began when she was about 4 years old. Her father, Milt, was coaching a local youth squad at the time.
I wasnt supposed to be on the team I too young, she said. But hes like, We dont have enough people. Grab a bat.
So Crutchfield played. Later on, she settled into her catching role as a member of a Canby Wildcats fast-pitch team that was missing talent behind the plate.
I had an arm, I guess, she said. Theyre like, Hey, throw on the gear. I was trying to be a pitcher. But Im better at this.
AT A GLANCE
Colleen Crutchfield will soon join the list of recent Canby softball players who continued their careers in Division II:
Mary Depner, Hillsdale (Mich.) College
Nicole Friedemann, West Virginia Wesleyan
Kaycee Hoffman, Montana State-Billings
Emily Kenagy, Western Oregon