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Eisenbeis signs with St. Mary's
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Heidi Eisenbeis couldn't pass up the opportunity. The Ceres High senior signed a national letter of intent to play softball for Division I Saint Mary's College.

"It was an easy decision," Eisenbeis said. "A couple of years ago, I went to a basketball game there. Ever since then, I've been interested in the softball program."

Eisenbeis toured the campus, which is located in the Moraga foothills eight miles east of Berkeley and 20 miles east of San Francisco, in October. She committed to Saint Mary's in November.

Eisenbeis received letters from more than 80 colleges. She turned down offers from several programs, including Utah Valley State, Stony Brook University and Jacksonville State University, to stay in California.

Eisenbeis was recruited by Jessica Hanaseth, Saint Mary's assistant coach at the time. She has since been promoted to head coach.

Hanaseth watched Eisenbeis collect a couple of hits off Katie Cotta in a showcase tournament. Cotta led Linden High School to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title in 2004.

"I'm excited to go play for her," Eisenbeis said.

Eisenbeis wants to help turn Saint Mary's into a winner. The Gaels went 10-45 overall, 3-17 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference this past season.

Eisenbeis is willing to switch positions, like she did in high school.

"I'll play anywhere as long as I get to hit," she said.

Eisenbeis had a memorable career at Ceres High School. The four-year starter was a major contributor on offense. She never complained when asked to play a different position on defense. Eisenbeis logged time at second and third base, in the outfield and behind home plate.

"She comes ready to play every game," said Ceres coach Mike Corsaut. "I've seen that ever since she was a freshman."

So have other coaches. Eisenbeis earned all-league honors every year.

As a junior, Eisenbeis hit .456 with two homers, one triple, five doubles, 20 runs and 17 RBI, en route to claiming second-team, all-state and first-team, all-league honors. She couldn't believe she made all-state.

"It was a surprise," Eisenbeis said.

Eisenbeis also made first-team, all-league this year and in 2002. She earned honorable-mention honors as a sophomore despite being hampered by a wrist injury.

"She was one of the most feared hitters in our league," Corsaut said.

Eisenbeis has been playing softball year-round since the fifth grade. She spent one season with the Ceres Sizzle.

Then made the jump to A-division travel ball.

Eisenbeis has suited up for a handful of elite teams, including the California Grapettes, California Rock-n-Fire, California Pouncers and Stockton United Sports Academy Gold.

"I've never had a break," Eisenbeis said.

Eisenbeis has received a lot of help along the way. She singled out her father, Dave, and three coaches, Billy Evans, Mike Jones and Mike Corsaut.

Dave signed Heidi up for Ceres Youth Softball when she was nine. He hoped his daughter would follow in his footsteps. Dave played third base at the University of the Pacific and Eastern Oregon University. He got drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.

"He's had a huge impact," Eisenbeis said.

Evans, former Ceres High varsity softball coach, has allowed players to practice free of charge at his house for years. He has a batting cage and infield in his backyard.

"He's done a lot for me," Eisenbeis said.

"I've been hitting over there since I was 10."

Added Dave: "He's very generous."

Jones helped coach the Ceres High varsity softball team for 15 years.

In 2002, Jones, Eisenbeis and the Bulldogs won the Central California Conference championship with a perfect 18-0 record.

Eisenbeis gained a wealth of knowledge from Corsaut the last three years.

Eisenbeis will dedicate one more summer to travel ball before leaving for college in late July.

"I think she'll be very successful because she's going to continue to work hard," Corsaut said.

Added Dave: "She's pretty driven." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier