LANDER – Over the course of the past few years there has been a multi-sport athlete at Lander Valley High School (LVHS) who has had opportunities to explore a future career in different professions, but on Thursday afternoon she signed her letter of intent to play softball at North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS). 

That Lady Tiger, Lilly Hamilton, has progressed extremely well in basketball under the basket and in swimming for the state champion Lady Tigers’ swim team. But, in the end, it was softball that stole her heart and that is why she’s put so much effort into playing wherever she could since Lander and Riverton do not have girls’ softball as a sanctioned sport (yet). 

“I enjoy softball a lot,” Hamilton said after signing her letter of intent. “It’s just where my heart is mostly. I enjoy the other sports, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just like I pushed myself in this sport … and I think that’s just where I really wanted to go.”

NDSCS, as of April 19, is ranked #1 overall in the NJCAA D3 rankings and adding Hamilton is only going to bring more success to the program just east of the Cowboy State. 

Lilly Hamilton signed her letter of intent to play softball in North Dakota despite LVHS not offering softball. (p/c Shawn O’Brate)

“Lilly loves the game,” Hamilton’s Softball Coach Josh Hatch said about his star second baseman. “Some players play it because maybe they’ve been pressured into it or something like that but Lilly loves the game and she just gives everything, all of her heart, all of her effort. Every game she’s going to give 100%, she’s going to give a lot to the school.”

Being a multi-sport athlete has always been a solid plus for student-athletes trying to move on in the next level, but with softball being the perfect medium between a team sport and an individual sport it’s the perfect spot for a player like Hamilton. 

“The more you can be a part of other sports will help you grow as an athlete,” Hatch said. “Softball might not be quite the team sport like basketball but just going through the trials of a basketball game helps you in a softball game in lots of ways.”

Hamilton reiterated her coach’s words, especially since she was able to learn and grow in every sport she attempted to play for the LVHS Lady Tigers. 

“Team sports, individual sports, you have to have the mindset of both which can help with softball because you have to work on your own self but you also have to work as a team to get the win,” Hamilton explained. “And with swimming it did help me gain muscle, basketball helped grow my team sport mindset and I do think a multi-sport athlete is just a different mindset you have to have if you want to win.”

At the moment Hamilton is playing on the Worland Lady Warriors’ softball team and currently has two out-of-the-park home runs and a multitude of stops at second base that has propelled her into the shortstop position a little more often. 

By: Shawn O’Brate