Gwen Bender (center) signs her letter-of-intent to play softball at Olivet Nazarene University next year surrounded by her family and Coach Blakey.
By BLAKE FAITH
Mt. Zion softball senior Gwen Bender has signed her letter of intent to play at Olivet Nazarene University next spring.
Bender plays catcher for Mt. Zion and in her junior year she compiled a batting average of .390, 39 hits, 38 RBI’s and one home-run. Head coach Greg Blakey has seen Bender grow as an individual into a great leader for his team and it started mid-way through last season.
“She started becoming a leader probably about midway through last year and has just done a good job of leading by example, and vocally for us,” Coach Blakey said.
When choosing Olivet Nazarene University, Bender said that it was a top NAIA program and when she went on her visit she really loved the campus and the coach.
“Everything she said basically fit me,” Bender said. “I’m majoring in nursing and so she’s going to work around that. So it was just a perfect fit for me when I went.”
Bender always thought Coach Blakey has done a great job of forming the Mt. Zion practices like college practices and has given his players the knowledge of the game being high-speed and she will take that with her to Olivet Nazarene University.
In her first year at Olivet Nazarene University, Bender wants to get all As academically and athletically to fight for a spot.
“Obviously, if I get a spot, obviously the end goal would be to start and play my freshman year,” Bender said.
When asked what Bender’s lasting marks will be on the softball program Coach Blakey said that it will be her as a tremendous competitor and his words of advice to her is to take that with her.
“She always finds a way to try and beat you. She never wants to be beat,” Coach Blakey said. “Never stop competing because I think you compete every day in life no matter what. So always keep competing.”
What Bender will cherish and remember the most in her time at Mt. Zion is all of the fun she has had.
We’ve had even better practices. We take it very seriously,” Bender said. “But Coach always has something that we can always have a good time whether we joke around, everything’s light hearted.”