Their senior seasons may not start for a little while longer, but they already know where they’ll be playing next year.
Five Arroyo Grande High athletes signed national letters of intent to Division I schools in James Gym on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period, which lasts for one week.
Girls water polo star Katie Sverchek will continue her career at Arizona State, and girls basketball player Emma Weinreich will go to North Dakota. Additionally, three others whose earlier verbal commitments were previously reported, baseball standout Jordan Morrison (to UC Irvine) and softball pitchers Jill Compton (Fresno State) and Sydney Gouveia (Loyola Marymount), also made it official.
Here’s a look at the five Eagles who signed Wednesday:
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An ESPN RISE all-state underclass second-team honoree and all-CIF-Southern Section Division 3 selection as a junior, Compton helped lead Arroyo Grande to its first outright league title in 11 seasons.
The right-hander with a devastating rise ball pitched every inning of the Eagles’ final six league games, winning every time. During a key eight-game late-season stretch, she had an ERA of 0.36 and tossed a no-hitter against San Luis Obispo and then a perfect game against South Torrance in the playoffs.
She finished the year with 220 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA in 129 2⁄3 innings and also batted .314 with 19 runs scored on her way to The Tribune’s county player of the year and PAC 7 MVP awards.
In college, she’ll be playing at one of the most well-attended stadiums in the nation, as Bulldog Diamond drew an average crowd of 1,351 this past spring.
“As soon as I stepped on the campus, I loved it,” Compton said. “I just like the atmosphere and how everyone in Fresno is about Fresno State.”
Fresno State went 35-19 last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Margie Wright, in her 27th year, led the program to a national championship in 1998.
“She’s an amazing coach,” Compton said. “I know that she’s going to push me like I’ve never been pushed.”
Just like Compton, Gouveia wasn’t fazed by the circle moving from 40 feet to 43 feet away from home plate because of a national mandate coming into the season.
Gouveia finished with a 0.99 ERA in 49 2⁄3 innings while holding opponents to a team-best .156 batting average. She also batted .273 and had nine RBI.
LMU finished 32-27 overall a year ago, and won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference’s six-team Coastal Division (Portland State won the Mountain Division) at 16-4.
“It’s really pretty, and it’s a school I would choose if I wasn’t playing sports,” Gouveia said.
With both Gouveia and Compton coming back, as well as six other players from last year’s league championship roster, expectations figure to be high for the Eagles again.
“We’re really excited,” Gouveia said. “We just want to win.”
A 6-foot-1, 180-pound centerfielder, Morrison batted .408 with 14 doubles and 28 RBI last year, both team highs, while earning all-county first-team honors and helping the Eagles win their first league title since 2003.
The Anteaters (43-18) ended last year ranked No. 16 in the country by Baseball America after finishing second in the Big West Conference standings and reaching the NCAA Tournament. Five Anteaters were drafted by MLB clubs a year ago.
“The coaches are so great,” Morrison said. “I just hope that I can go on and play baseball for as long as I can.”
Morrison was also a receiver for the Eagles in football as a junior, catching 17 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, before focusing solely on baseball this year.
An all-Division 3 first-team pick and the PAC 7 MVP as a junior, Sverchek scored 71 goals as the Eagles (27-6) stretched their ongoing league winning streak to 78 games and advanced to the semifinals of the divisional playoffs.
The Eagles had won Division 4 championships the three previous years before being moved up a level.
College water polo is predominantly based on the West Coast. The top six teams in last year’s final national rankings were all from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, in which Arizona State plays. The Sun Devils finished ranked No. 8 in the country.
Arizona State had three All-American honorable mentions following last season and had three alums play at the World Championships in Shanghai.
“They’re a great Pac-12 school, so their facilities are amazing there,” Sverchek said. “It’s going to be a great place to learn new things and succeed as a water polo player.”
As a junior, Weinreich was named to the all-Division 3AA team and Tribune all-county first team after averaging a team-leading 9.6 points per game within a balanced offense, as well as 5.7 rebounds, during a run to the quarterfinals of the postseason.
Weinreich’s older sister Christine, a former Cuesta College transfer, competes for the Fighting Sioux in track and field, “so that’s just a bonus to it,” Emma said.
North Dakota was unanimously voted to win the Great West Conference championship in the league’s preseason coaches poll. It will be the Fighting Sioux’s final year in the Great West before transitioning into the larger, more longstanding Big Sky Conference.
Likely a power forward in college, the 6-1 Weinreich said in the near future she wants to become a more versatile player and improve her outside shooting and dribbling.
This week has been a busy one for her family. A few days ago, Emma’s brother Garrett, an offensive lineman in football, verbally committed to Oregon State.
“The past couple days have been really exciting,” she said. “There’s been a lot of cheering through the house.”
Prep football players will be able to make their commitments official Feb. 1.