• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Leea Cole and Emily Hestand sign with Union College

Woodford County High School seniors Leea Cole and Emily Hestand signed their letters of intent to play softball at Union College in Barbourville in the WCHS cafeteria Wednesday, Dec. 12. "At an occasion such as this, I try and find that one thing about each player that I will remember most," said WCHS softball Coach Les Anderson. "Leea is tough, she is a fierce competitor and gets after it wherever you put her on the field. The weight of the world could be on her shoulders against Scott County, but she wants to win. I've stopped giving her instruction before she steps to the plate, the kid knows what she is doing and I am proud of her." Cole is a hybrid softball player. She can play in the infield, outfield and brings a wealth of experience in the pitching circle. As a junior, she batted .338 with 16 RBI. Her speed was a difference maker for the Lady Jackets, tallying 14 steals. In the circle, Cole had 15 strikeouts over 19 innings pitched. Cole says she wants to study medicine and become a neurological surgeon. "Softball has taught me never to give up because things can change in the blink of an eye," said Cole. "When I met the coaches and the team at Union, I felt like it was a small family and it made perfect sense to me. It's exciting to have this chance, and I am grateful for the opportunity." Hestand battled her way back from multiple knee surgeries to become a vital part of the Lady Jacket lineup. Her offensive numbers skyrocketed last season when she hit for a .405 average. In the district championship game, Hestand had three RBI to lead the Lady Jackets to the district crown. Hestand says she plans to study physical therapy at Union. "Emily is a fighter," said Anderson. "We all remember the day Emily got hurt at practice, and we didn't realize how devastating an injury it was. She has had to fight through the physical and mental stress of trying to overcome a terrible knee injury. She fought so hard to overcome the fear of her dream being lost due to the surgeries. I am proud of both of these girls, and we look forward to watching their careers unfold." Hestand said she loved the coziness of the campus in Barbourville and is looking forward to the challenge of balancing school and softball at the next level.

"I chose Union because I felt at home the moment I walked on campus," said Hestand. "The whole process is scary but also exciting because this is such a major decision. "I learned many lessons being part of the softball team at Woodford County, but most important is being there for each other. The team was supportive through both of my knee surgeries, and I'll always remember that."

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