Four local female athletes commit to colleges

jcortez@modbee.comDecember 19, 2013 

Modesto High senior Emily Liddle and Central Catholic seniors Emily Raspo and Gabby Dias have signed to compete at the next level.

Liddle, 17, will compete in gymnastics next year for the University of Washington. Raspo, 18, will head to the Southeastern Conference to play softball for the University of Mississippi, while Dias, 17, will stay closer to home and play softball at California State University, Stanislaus.

On Friday, Sierra High’s Allie Walljasper, The Bee’s Softball Player of the Year, will sign her letter-of-intent to attend Louisiana State.

Raspo, meanwhile, has accompanied her family on annual football sojourns since she was in the fourth grade.

“We have gone to games at Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina, a bunch of California schools, and Texas,” said Raspo, who hit .371 in 23 games last year for the Raiders and will be a utility player for the Rebels.

“I just love that Oxford (Miss.) is a college town and that it’s centered around college life. That’s what I was looking for.”

Dias, a catcher, didn’t need to travel the country to solidify her college choice.

“My mom and my uncle and my grandpa all went to Stanislaus,” said Dias, a .529 hitter for the Western Athletic Conference champs. “It’s been my dream ever since I decided that I wanted to play softball in college to play at CSUS.”

Liddle, 17, is a level 10 gymnast who puts in nearly 25 hours of practice per week at the Airborne Gymnastics club in Santa Clara.

“I’m incredibly excited,” said Liddle,” who received a full ride from UW. “The second I walked onto the campus I knew it’s where I wanted to be.”

Liddle, who carries a 4.09 grade-point average as a partial international baccalaureate at MHS, has enjoyed an ultra-successful Junior Olympic career.

In 2009, as a Level 8 gymnast, Liddle was the state champion, taking first all-around and first on the balance beam. At the regionals that year, she was first on bars and second all-around.

In 2011 at the state championships, Liddle took first on vault, bars, beam and all-around, was first on bars and all-around at regionals, and in the floor exercise and on bars, and third all-around at the Western Nationals.

This season, at Level 10, Liddle was first on floor, beam and all-around at the state meet.

Sierra’s Walljasper is looking forward to Friday’s signing before friends, family and past and present coaches. The ceremony will take place at the school gym at 3:15 p.m.

The pitcher entering her final season on the Manteca campus said playing Division I softball was always a dream, and LSU was the perfect fit.

“The facilities, the school and the softball team ... everyone was really nice,” she said. “This is exciting. I finally sign the paper and start focusing on heading to college.”

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