HAGERSTOWN —Cara Ferguson’s life has been a scrapbook filled with softball memories.
On Wednesday, she turned the page and started a new chapter.
Ferguson, a pitcher at Smithsburg High School, started the next part of her story when she signed a letter-of-intent to play in 2014 at Hagerstown Community College, a move which could well open up more storylines in her future.
“This is a relief, but at the same time, I’m excited,” said Ferguson, on the verge of starting her senior season with the Leopards. “I’ll be starting a new chapter in my life while doing something I love to do.”
Anyone who needs proof of Ferguson’s love for the game just has to look at her 2012 statistics.
Ferguson shared Herald-Mail Washington County Player of the Year honors with Clear Spring’s Amber Forrest after recording an 18-2 record with a 100 strikeouts, leading the county in each category. She pitched 126 innings to accumulate a 0.67 ERA, allowing 82 hits and 25 walks.
She added to the Leopards’ offense by hitting .508 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.
The numbers were important, but new HCC softball coach Thomas Burge saw something deeper in Ferguson, starting from the first time he met her. So much so, the signing is very significant first step as he takes over the program from former coach Amy Sterner.
“When you look at her stats, you can see she has the passion to win,” Burge said. “Then when you see her play, you see she has an uncanny ability to do it and that says a lot.
“This is a huge piece for the program, signing the pitcher of the year. A player with her passion and commitment to the game and for an education is big because that’s what we want to build the team around.”
Burge said the recruiting process started when Ferguson came to work out at HCC’s wellness center, which he directs. In the chance meeting, he asked about softball and her thought process for the future and asked Ferguson to keep HCC in mind. Then the recruiting process began with emails and Burge attending Smithsburg games.
Ferguson, in turn, kept HCC in mind.
“I don’t mind that it is close to home,” she said. “I’m close to my family and I will have a lot of opportunities and it will be beneficial to be here. I feel comfortable here already.”
Ferguson said she looked at HCC as a chance to get credits and prepare to go to a four-year school, but it is also a good jump in competition as she leaves high school and heads into a college career.
“I’ve always dreamed about playing in college,” Ferguson said. “I’ve played softball for most of my life — I started playing in second grade — and I’ve put in a lot of time and effort. I’ve grown to love it after playing for so long and I want to keep playing.”
Ferguson said she realizes the game will change in her new chapter. She has been playing on the travel club and high school levels, but expects playing for the Hawks will require a new level of intensity.
Wednesday’s signing gives her the chance to use her senior season at Smithsburg as time to prepare for what’s ahead.
“I would definitely like to be pitcher of the year again and I want to help the team go further. It is something to strive for,” Ferguson said. “This is a relief, but I still want to put my all into high school softball and get mentally prepared to be here because this is where I’ll be after the season is over.”