Daniella Vineyard admits she's more than a little nervous about leaving home.
The Atwater High pitcher signed with Division II Davis & Elkins in April.
So come this fall, Vineyard will pack up her things and begin her college career in West Virginia.
"Oh yeah, I'm definitely nervous," Vineyard said. "I'm excited, too.
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"I've always wanted to go to a four-year school and play softball."
Unlike most athletes, Vineyard won't be making the trip on her own.
Heck, she won't even be the only Vineyard.
She'll be joined by her older sister, Amber, who signed with Davis & Elkins in November.
"I never thought I'd be able to play with her again," said Amber, who is a sophomore at Merced College.
"We played together this summer and that was an experience. That was the first time since high school.
"It's rare you get to play with friends in college. Family is totally different."
The sisters played one year together at the varsity level for Atwater.
Three years ago, Daniella was the team's ace as a sophomore and Amber played third base.
Amber hopes to make it as a catcher at Davis & Elkins.
She jumped at the chance when former Denair coach and current Davis & Elkins coach Jim Bacca expressed interest.
When Bacca also wanted Daniella, Amber did her best to convince her sister to tag along.
"I was OK with it from day one," Amber said. "I encouraged Daniella to do it.
"I told her she's never going to get a chance like this again."
Initially, Daniella wasn't sure she wanted to go to the same college as her sister.
"College was going to be my thing," Daniella said. "I thought if I went to the same school with my sister, she'd end up being my mother.
"But the more I thought about it, I thought it would be good to have somebody you know there.
"She can help me with the frustrations and home sickness."
Oddly enough, the Vineyard sisters will play for a college coach they know.
Bacca coached at Denair and coached summer travel teams the Vineyards played against while competing for the Atwater Outlaws.
"It makes it a lot easier," Amber said. "We're more familiar with him.
"We have an idea of what he wants us to do and how he coaches. We know what he expects."
SPRING recruiting has started.
NCAA rules prohibit head coaches from visiting high school campuses during this evaluation period (April 15-May 31).
However, assistant football coaches from USC, Colorado, Washington State, UC Davis, Arizona State and San Jose State have already visited Merced High this week alone.
THE MERCED baseball team has stormed back into the playoff race.
After losing its first four Central California Conference games, Merced has won five in a row.
Merced can make the playoffs by winning its final three games if Pitman loses one of its two games next week against Turlock.
Merced is back in action tonight at home against Atwater (7 p.m.) before closing the regular season with two games against Golden Valley next week.
ATWATER senior swimmer Trevor Gilbertson used a little creativity in asking his date to the prom.
Golden Valley's Katelyn Bennett was shocked when she heard her name over the PA system.
It was Atwater coach Warren Campbell, who announced the invitation over the loudspeaker before the girls 100-yard freestyle finals at Saturday's CCC championships at Pitman.
"Katelyn, Trevor wants to know if you would go to the prom with him," Campbell said.
Gilbertson then went over to lane No. 1 and received a hug.
Apparently the answer was yes.
Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.