Emily Thompson signed to play softball with McKendree University last week. She is shown here flanked by parents Amy and Scott Thompson. Standing behind them are coaches Greg Ratermann, Wayne Harre, Patrick Weathers, Dempsey Witte, Charlie Heck and Bethany Hinkle.
By Travis Volz
It has been a remarkable run of success in the Nashville Hornettes’ softball program over the last four years, and Emily Thompson has been right in the middle of it.
Thompson, who has already made her mark on the softball diamonds of southern Illinois as a Hornette, will have a chance to keep playing ball for the McKendree University Bearcats next year.
That was not her original plan. Despite all of the success she has enjoyed in the sport, Thompson was ready to hang up her glove for good.
“My original plan was not to play softball in college,” she said. “But I talked to the coaches at a college visit, and that kind of convinced me to play in college.”
The Bearcats are getting a player with a winning pedigree. During her four years as a Hornette, Thompson has been part of a state championship team and a third place finisher, as well as the winner of four regionals and three sectional championships.
A lot of those wins has Thompson playing behind pitcher Maci Ingram, and the duo will be teammates at McKendree.
“Maci and I have been playing together since we were probably ten years old, so it will be a lot of fun to keep playing with her in college.”
Thompson brings a varied skill set to the Bearcats. Nashville coach Dempsey Witte says that her versatility has been a key part of Nashville’s success over the last few years.
“Emily can hit the ball out of the park, and she can use her speed and bunt for a hit, so she’s really hard to defend,” Witte said. “Plus she can chase down a lot of balls in the outfield.”
Witte has watched her game develop during her time and Nashville, and he says she has just kept getting better.
“She was always a pretty good hitter, but over the last couple of years she’s gotten stronger and developed into a good bat in the middle of our order,” Witte says.
Thompson says that she is most comfortable as an outfielder, and that McKendree graduated a couple of outfielders from last year’s team. She wants to try and fill one of those spots as a freshman.
For now, Thompson is enjoying the ride of another outstanding season in her last year at Nashville. The Hornettes beat rival Carterville to capture their third sectional championship in four years.
“I don’t think it has really sunken in yet,” Thompson says of beating the Lions. “They beat us in the sectional last year, and then beat us twice in extra innings this year, and it feels so good to get them back.”
Her career is not yet over, but the success she has already had bodes well for the future Bearcat.