FULTON, Ill. — Fulton is quickly becoming a hotbed for Carl Sandburg athletics.
On Monday, her 18th birthday, Steamers senior Faith Kennedy signed her junior-college letter of intent to play for the Chargers softball program.
"It's really exciting knowing that I have my life figured out," Kennedy said. "Knowing what I'm doing for the next two years has me excited. It's just a big relief. I love playing softball, and I'm going to enjoy playing two more years."
The Chargers program already houses Fulton sophomore Chelsea Lesniewski and received a commitment from Whitney Wynkoop last month. Earlier in the winter, Fulton senior Jordan Price announced she'd go to the Galesburg, Illinois, college to play volleyball and basketball for the Chargers.
"I can't wait to play two more years with Whitney," Kennedy said. "In college, you go out to meet people, and I can still go out with them and meet new people. It won't be as scary."
Sandburg Coach Todd Winkler looks forward to having Kennedy and Wynkoop join his program.
"(Faith and Whitney) are both multi-positional players, and in college, that's what you need," he said. "We're looking for somebody that can hit, and we know Faith can do that."
Kennedy has had a stellar start to her senior year, which included passing Lesniewski in the career home run chase in Fulton school history.
Kennedy has 16 RBIs and has homered five times in the seven games.
"The way she can hit, I think that's what we're looking for," Winkler said. "I don't think it's going to be a problem for her to take the next step."
The Steamers senior is averaging a home run every 5.5 at-bats. She is tied with Kylee Sweenie in pitches seen with 114. Kennedy saw 32 pitches in Saturday's 22-8 win over Peru St. Bede.
Kennedy is hitting .455 with runners in scoring position and has recorded 18 quality at-bats out of her total 22.
"Faith has worked hard for this in- and out-of-season," Fulton Coach Jessie Rosenow said. "I couldn't be more proud of her. I tell her everyday to be better than the day before."
As a catcher, Kennedy is overseeing a pitching staff — mostly run by Madison Whitmore — that has recorded a 4.20 team ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of about 2-to-1. Whitmore has walked four hitters.
The Steamers' pitching staff has thrown 58 percent first-pitch strikes, and of those opposing at-bats that started with a first-pitch strike, just 5 percent ended in a walk.
Defensively, Kennedy has picked off a baserunner and has caught three baserunners stealing. She has caught all 42 innings Fulton has played.
"I'm losing a catcher from this year, so I'm thinking we could slide her into there," Winkler said. "She could play pretty much any place, really. She's pretty versatile."
Fulton is 6-1 on the season after winning four times in 2016.
"It's just so exciting to see us come together as a program," Kennedy said. "We pull up three freshmen, and they help us out a lot. We have a lot more to come to us. Since we already beat the four wins (last year's total), we've already accomplished something."
Fulton was slated to play Monday against Rockridge, but the weather washed it out. The Steamers and Rockets will now play as part of a Thursday doubleheader at Rockridge.
The two baseball programs are rescheduled to play today (weather permitting) at Drive's Park.