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Brooks Clinches Scholarship To Sacramento State
She will be a Cougar for one more year.

Then she becomes a Hornet.

Escalon senior Caitlin Brooks officially signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Sacramento State on a full ride softball scholarship, and will suit up for the Division I school starting next fall.

"They first saw me when I was going into my sophomore year," Caitlin said of Sac State scouts. "They saw me on my travel ball team."

Caitlin said the scouts continued to track her progress and watched her pitch a few times, invited her to tour Sac State and shortly after her tour, offered her the scholarship.

It became official when she signed her Letter of Intent and then celebrated at a party with family, friends, coaches and teammates on Saturday night in Escalon.

"I love it there," Caitlin said of being impressed with the Sac State campus and surroundings.

She plans to pursue a career in physical therapy and will balance her studies and athletics, just as she does at Escalon High. She plays softball and is currently in practices for the upcoming basketball season for the Lady Cougars, but will switch exclusively to softball when she begins her college career.

For Caitlin, it's the culmination of a dream.

"I've been waiting so long to do it," she said of playing college softball. "I'm excited, I can't wait."

The Hornets - who signed three other players from around the state along with Caitlin - take the softball field for their season in the spring, so Caitlin will spend the first few months at college settling in to her new routine, with conditioning and agility drills during the fall and winter. Spring will see her taking the field as one of the primary pitchers for the Hornets.

"Caitlin is a very talented pitcher with a string of championships on her résumé. I expect her to be a key part of our pitching staff the moment she steps on campus," Sacramento State head softball coach Kathy Strahan said in a statement released by the college. "She knows how to win and she brings a great deal of experience to our program."

At Escalon, Caitlin has played at the varsity level since her freshman year and helped the team to three straight Trans-Valley League titles and Section championship banners the last two seasons.

"She's just a hard worker, I'm sure she's going to do great," said Escalon varsity softball coach Dianne Teixeira, who has coached her for the past three seasons. "We've had a lot of great players over the years but not too many softball girls from Escalon go on to big schools."

Caitlin joins EHS alum Shannon Krein as one of those few, with Krein tapped by Wisconsin a few years ago.

"Her work ethic is outstanding," Teixeira added of Caitlin. "She's a great young lady, focused on the field, a goofy teenager off the field. It's been a pleasure to have coached her."

She has broken multiple records at Escalon High and has set the bar incredibly high for those that follow. Caitlin compiled a record of 26-2 last year and had a miniscule ERA while throwing a dozen no hitters. She was named the Trans-Valley League MVP in each of her first three seasons and routinely baffles opposing hitters.

"Little girls want to come out to watch her," Teixeira noted, adding that the younger players look up to her as a role model. "She's great with the kids."

For her part, Caitlin can't really remember a life without softball.

"I started in T-ball and haven't stopped since," she said.

The allure of the pitching circle, she added, is something that never gets old, even when she is out there lobbing balls in to her dad, Dale, long after everyone else has gone home, or spending time with her private pitching coach, Jimmy Dyson in Modesto.

"You can fool batters, it's a lot of fun to control the game," she said of the power a pitcher can have in a contest.

Teixeira was quick to point out that Caitlin is multi-talented, leading the Lady Cougars with her bat as well as her arm.

"It's going to be exciting this next year," Teixeira said of working to defend the TVL and Section titles. "Pitching and hitting, she does well, and is just an all around great player."

Mom Terry Brooks said the Saturday night signing party also featured a DVD, set to music, chronicling Caitlin's career so far, from the early days to the most recent Section crown.

Caitlin said the hard work and hours of practice have been worth it, especially considering the payoff in the form of an education at the prestigious school.

She also credited her coaches - at all levels of her career - for helping her succeed.

"They taught me how to play the game," she said, "and how to love the game."