New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Neshannock High softball team just won the first WPIAL championship in its history.
Now the Lady Lancers have their first Division I player.
Senior center fielder Rayanna Furst will join the women’s squad at Robert Morris University next season.
The Lady Lancers are in the midst of a second consecutive state playoff run, taking last year’s Class AA crown and participating in this year’s state title game against Williams Valley at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Penn State University.
“Since my sophomore year, I’ve wanted to play college softball. I wanted to try to get recruited and everything. Then, I realized I wanted to focus on my studies, so I didn’t,” Furst said. “But once this season started and we were practicing and how much fun it is, I wanted to play again.”
Furst spearheads the team from the leadoff spot in the order with a .576 average and has recorded a team-high 40 runs.
“I think she’s always been on their radar,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “Ray’s been a good, solid player for four years. She’s really made us go. We’re going to miss her. It’s great she’s going to be moving on to a program like that, and she’s fairly close. I can go catch some games. I like to keep up with the kids.”
Known mostly for her speed, daring the opposition to beat her to first with frequent bunts and circus catches on defense, Furst also displays power potential, tied for first on the team with two home runs. She spent the majority of last season in the three spot in the order before making the transition to leadoff.
“Ray’s just Ray. For the last four years, she does it all. She’s very good defensively and has the speed to get on base,” Kimmel said. “She can hit the ball. She really has a good swing. She’s always been geared to the slapping end of things, but she can drive the ball when you ask her to.”
Furst was sold on Robert Morris, as she viewed the school a good fit for her softball and career goals. She is leaning toward a major is nursing, although biology is another possibility.
“An opportunity randomly popped out of nowhere from Robert Morris and I had to take the opportunity, because if I don’t, later on, I know I’d beat myself up over it and be wondering why I didn’t,” she said. “They have a great coaching staff — they’re very nice. The team seems nice. Academically and the campus just seem like the right fit for me. I feel like I’ll be able to adapt, hopefully.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to playing at Robert Morris and playing softball for four more years.”