Effingham Daily News
The softball players of the National Trail Conference know Altamont's Deidre Ledbetter as a fearsome pitcher, one who took home the conference's MVP last season in part due to her dominance on the mound.
However, coach Nic Nelson of Lake Land College sees a player he can use all across the diamond starting in the fall of 2014.
Ledbetter, along with Newton's Brittany Fore and two other players, signed to play softball for Nelson in Mattoon earlier this week.
The Altamont senior is looking forward to expanding her horizons as a softball player, and occasionally stepping back on the bump every once in a while.
"I don't think I'm going to be a pitcher for them, maybe like a number four," Ledbetter said. "I'm not coming in to be a pitcher, I think I'll be more of a utility player."
In 2013 for the Indians, Ledbetter was 15-3 with a 2.26 ERA while striking out 155 batters.
Her line at the plate was perhaps more impressive, recording a batting average of .532, an on-base percentage of .562 and hitting two home runs with 33 RBIs for an Indians squad that made it to Super-Sectionals.
Ledbetter understands that her senior season at Altamont will have her back on the mound a lot, as the results were too good to pass up last season, but also thinks some talent in the wings will give her a few moe days to work in the field, where she says she can play anywhere besides catcher.
"I'm going to have to be pitching a lot, we have some freshmen that are going to be helping us out," she said. "They'll allow me to play somewhere else (for some games)."
Nelson is familiar with Ledbetter's skills in the field from her time playing for the Mattoon Pride, a travel-team that won last year's NSA Class A World Series championship.
The Pride have had many players go on to Lake Land in Mattoon, but there were a number of other reasons that appealed to Ledbetter that apply to prospective college students that aren't doubling as student athletes.
"I really like their campus, how close everything is together, the campus, the field, the apartments," she said. "I can walk if I want to and drive if I need to."
With Ledbetter's time on the mound mostly coming to a close, many area players in the NTC will see her for the final times. Lake Land's Great Rivers Athletic Conference has a number of area alumnae or current seniors, like Kaskaskia's Megan Maxey (St. Elmo), Tara Stephens (Teutopolis), Dani Bell (Windsor) and Courtney Schultz (Stew-Stras), that won't have to see her on the mound in college very often.
Not that her batting line makes facing her at the plate a more comforting thought.