Ally Ivey took the next step in her life Wednesday afternoon. She found it all to be a little overwhelming.
The Ross High School senior catcher finalized her commitment to the Loyola University softball program by signing a national letter of intent at RHS.
“You wait so long just to sign a piece of paper that can change your life,” Ivey said. “I have to take a breath every five seconds just to make sure I’m still living. I’m still shaking. I can’t stop smiling. It’s literally a dream come true. Anything that you can imagine, I’m feeling it right now.”
Ivey was smitten with the Chicago school during her official visit and wasn’t in the car very long on the way home when she called and made her verbal commitment.
“We weren’t even out of Chicago yet and I called them back,” Ivey said. “I bought a hat, a sweatshirt and sweatpants. I was wearing the whole gear. As soon as I got it, I put it on.
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“They just made me feel at home. Every person there greeted me with a smile. You just walk somewhere and know that’s the place you want to be for four years.”
She’ll catch or play first base at Loyola. The Ramblers, under the direction of Jeff Tylka, are a Division I program that competes in the Missouri Valley Conference and went 21-28 last season.
Ivey has been a force during her three seasons at Ross, hitting .540 with 31 doubles, 14 triples, nine home runs and 102 RBIs.
The Rams made it to the Division II state tournament last spring under Paul Fernandez, who resigned in July after 25 seasons at the helm.
“Numbers don’t lie,” Fernandez said. “Ally’s not a slapper or anything like that. She’s just a legit hitter with power. She’s going to set most of the offensive records that we have as far as hitting’s concerned. She reminds me of a lot of different players that I’ve had.
“You could see at a young age the tools that she already possessed, and on top of being naturally gifted, she also worked at it. If she was in one of those states like Kentucky, she probably would’ve been playing since her sixth-grade year on the varsity level.
“People talk about five-tool players. To me, she’s got six or seven tools because she has brains and she has heart. She exuberates leadership. She is very grounded and also wants her teammates to be great. She not only talks the talk, she walks the walk.”
New Ross coach Anna Winters — the former Anna Smith, who owns most of the Rams’ pitching records — is looking forward to coaching Ivey.
“Ally is a great competitor and even better person,” Winters said. “I love the way she plays the game. She’s super intense and a leader on the field. You can tell she loves the game.”
Ivey said she doesn’t think the Ramball atmosphere will change in the Winters era.
“She talked about keeping it family-oriented just like Fern had,” Ivey said. “Fern set a really good base with everybody … alumni and even middle-school kids. We’re all a family. If you play Ross softball, everybody’s part of it.”
Ivey plans to major in biology at Loyola. She received interest from Mid-American Conference schools like Ohio, Kent and Toledo.
Her summer team, the Beverly Bandits, is based in Columbus. The Bandits organization is based in Chicago.
“All of our tournaments are usually up in the Chicago area,” Ivey said. “I also have a lot of family up in Chicago, so it was kind of like a home away from home. That five-hour drive to some people is like, ‘Oh, we have to go five hours.’ But to me and my dad and my mom, it’s like zipping in and zipping out in one day.
“I’d like to say thanks to everybody who’s been a part of my life. It feels awesome to have the friends and support system that I do. For all the little girls or anybody that wants to go play, it’s possible. I grew up in Ross, Ohio. You can come out from the dirts and get on top of the mountain. You just have to put in the hard work.”
Wednesday was a day Ivey won’t soon forget.
“When I first woke up, it felt like my birthday,” she said. “I walked downstairs and my dad made me a cake and everything. It didn’t quite get real until I was sitting in class and I couldn’t focus. I was like, ‘I don’t even care about the new president or anything like that. I’m going to sign a letter, people.’ That’s crazy. It just sneaks up on you.”
National Signing Day Area Commitments
The following area seniors have signed or intend to sign national letters of intent to play college athletics (names were provided by each school):
Tommy Brosnahan, Lebanon — Ohio
Alex Dodson, Lakota West — Ohio Northern
Kaleb Ford, Fairfield — Longwood (Va.)
Josh Harrison, Lakota West — Wake Technical CC (N.C.)
Eric Hooper, Lakota West — Heidelberg
Jacob Kates, Lakota West — High Point (N.C.)
Jared Kauffman, Fenwick — Eastern Michigan
Nolan Kestner, Lebanon — Defiance
Brock Mathis, Fairfield — Louisville
Noah Maurer, Lakota West — Cedarville
Alssan Ramsby, Lakota West — Northern Kentucky
John Sherman, Lakota East — Morehead State
Nick Taylor, Lebanon — Salem International (W.Va.)
Chase Wullenweber, Lakota West — Tusculum (Tenn.)
Evan Kuhlman, Lakota East — Evansville
Emma Wright, Talawanda — Grand Valley State (Mich.)
Miles Jena, Fenwick — Ball State
Emily Elstun, Lakota West — Wofford (S.C.)
Emily Polivick, Lakota East — Ursuline (Ohio)
Rachel Burgess, Fairfield — Indiana-East
Madison Adams, Cincinnati Christian — Asbury (Ky.)
Chloe Allen, Lebanon — Lake Erie (Ohio)
Alexis Arnold, Monroe — Georgetown (Ky.)
Taylor Bramlett, Lakota West — Cincinnati Christian
Megan Brankamp, Lakota West — Georgetown (Ky.)
Ally Ivey, Ross — Loyola (Ill.)
Maddie Koger, Fairfield — Charleston Southern (S.C.)
Rachel Lewis, Lakota East — Northwestern
Shelby Schmitt, Badin — Rio Grande
Alexis Strother, Lebanon — Tennessee-Martin
Jillian Taylor, Monroe — Bethany (W.Va.)
Payton Keiner, Cincinnati Christian — Liberty (Va.)
Emma Otten, Fairfield — South Carolina
Noah Connaughton, Badin — Dayton
BOYS TRACK/CROSS COUNTRY
Zach Birdsall, Fairfield — Northern Kentucky
GIRLS TRACK/CROSS COUNTRY
Meredith Elstun, Lakota West — Ohio
Jessie Hartman, Lebanon — Ohio
Alexis Adleta, Lakota East — Akron
Haley Bergheger, Lakota West — Georgetown (Ky.)
Edie Brewer, Lakota East — North Carolina A&T
Kennedee Card, Lakota East — Cincinnati Christian
Megan Kaufman, Lakota West — Tennessee-Chattanooga
Maya Krause, Lakota West — Xavier
Jayna Thompson, Fenwick — Louisiana-Monroe