PENDLETON — Aspen Garton knew after one informal practice with the softball team that Weatherford College was the place for her.
The recent Pendleton graduate made her official visit to the two-year Texas school in February, and felt right at home.
“I fell in love with the team and the coach (Haylee Williams),” Garton said. “I got to practice with the team, and that’s when I knew I could play there. I liked the school and the facility. That made it easy to make my decision.”
Garton, who primarily plays shortstop, also looked at other schools in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
“Arizona is really dry,” Garton said. “Texas can be hot too, but I am lucky I will miss it when it’s really hot and humid. I will still be in the heat, but I love that. That was part of my decision.”
The Coyotes finished 34-21 this season, and fell short of a return trip to the NJCAA Division I Championships.
“They have a great team,” Garton said of Weatherford, which has not had a losing season since 2012. “They play in the best conference in Texas (Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference). The softball is really good.”
An elementary education major, Garton also plans to minor in Spanish. She received a generous scholarship from Weatherford, and she also will get a helping hand when it comes time to take her game to a four-year school.
“They help you move on,” Garton said of the softball coaches.
Once her education is complete, Garton said she plans to return to the Pendleton area to teach.
A complete package
Garton brings a wealth of experience and talent to Weatherford.
She was part of the Bucks 5A state championship team her junior year, and was a first-team Intermountain Conference selection this season.
She hit .459 with 39 hits, seven doubles, eight home runs and 32 RBIs. She also scored 31 runs and had 10 fielding errors for the Bucks (17-10), who made a return trip to the state playoffs.
Pendleton played in the tough IMC along with top-ranked Ridgeview and Hood River Valley. The Bucks earned the third seed to state, where they lost in the quarterfinals to West Albany 9-3.
“Our league was really tough with Ridgeview coming in,” Garton said. “West Albany caught us by surprise. It was sad. We wanted to go back (to the championship game). Sometimes it isn’t your year. I’m glad we did what we did last year, it makes it not quite so bitter.”
Garton reports to Weatherford on Aug. 15 for fall ball, with winter conditioning to follow. She’s not quite sure where she falls in the Coyotes’ plans.
“I have played every position, but they are looking for shortstops and second basemen,” Garton said. “I’m most comfortable in the middle infield.”