Lake Land College outfielder Katie Nicholson has committed to play softball next season for Eastern Illinois University.

Nicholson boasted a .909 OPS this past season by slugging .520 and reaching base at a .389 clip – a marked improvement over her freshman season (.316/.351/.767).

In high school, Nicholson had relied on her speed by slapping and bunting heavily. But Lake Land coach Nic Nelson wanted her to develop more as a hitter, disallowing her from employing either hitting approach during the fall preseason. Despite a lapse against Purdue where she slapped a ball foul – and was subsequently pulled from the at-bat – Nicholson improved a great deal at the plate.

“Her work ethic is incredible,” Nelson said. “And she’s a maniac in the gym. We’re going to miss her leadership.”

Nicholson, a sophomore, batted .340 during an abbreviated spring season in which the Lakers ended on a nine-game winning streak to finish 21-4 and earn a No. 14 ranking in the NJCAA Division I poll. Nicholson also drove in 11 runs, stole five bases and struck out only five times in 50 at-bats.

Nelson says Nicholson’s defensive play is also invaluable.

“She is one of the fastest players in the NJCAA,” he said. “She has the ability to read defenses and adjust to their weaknesses.”