West Platte's Summers officially taking her talents to South Beach

  BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo West Platte senior Abby Summers, center, pens her national letter of intent to play softball at Florida International University in a ceremony Nov. 19 at West Platte High School.

WESTON, Mo. — West Platte senior pitching ace Abby Summers watched many of the teammates on her traveling fastpitch softball team commit to play collegiately during her sophomore year.

Hampered by an injury to her throwing arm, she thought her chance was gone to go to a Division I program — until hard work and rehab helped realize her potential. After attending a pitching camp at Florida International University in Miami her junior year, the Panthers offered her a scholarship to pitch.

Always a dream to continue her career in the Sunshine State, Summers jumped at the chance to pitch for FIU, a member of Conference USA which went 33-20 last season.

“It feels really good to know that I’m done,” Summers said after celebrating her signing Nov. 19 during a ceremony at West Platte High School. “I just can relax now. I can look forward to going and know that it’s going to happen. It’s awesome.”

Finally healthy, Summers saved her best season at West Platte for last. Her strikeout totals skyrocketed during her senior season, and she hurled seven no-hitters to help a resurrected program reach the Class 2 District 14 championship game.

Summers set a state record with her 282nd strikeout of the season in a season-ending loss to North Platte. She recorded a sub-1.00 ERA for a third straight season, helping West Platte finish with a school record for wins in a 20-7 campaign.

“At our softball banquet, she gave a wonderful speech about how much playing for her school meant for her,” West Platte coach Angelica Maxwell said. “The pride she has for West Platte and for her school, I think all kids should be as passionate for playing for their school as Abby has.”

Jim Koop, coach of Summers’ competitive team, will remember the pitcher fondly as well. However, one particular memory stands out for him, and it comes from Summers’ injury-riddled sophomore season.

“My favorite memory of Abby is not any of the wins, and she had some big time wins for us,” Koop said. “About two seasons ago, she had a bad shoulder injury. It was a long Sunday. It was seven games we had already played. My two other pitchers we’re just tired. It was 100 degrees outside and 100 percent humidity. They just had no more gas. Abby walked over with a tear in her eye and said, ‘Put me in the game.’ I said, ‘Abby you’re hurt; there’s no way.’

“She said ‘But my teammates need me.’ It’s memories like that you can’t replace.”

Summers’ state record for strikeouts in a season lasted only two weeks.

Portageville’s Taylor Tiffany struck out 23 North Platte batters during an extra-inning matchup with North Platte in the Class 2 Missouri State Softball Championships third-place game to reach 391 on the year. However, Summers will hold the mark for strikeouts in a 5-, 6-, and 7-inning game with 15, 17, and 21, respectively. The 21-K performance came Sept. 15 against Stewartsville during one of her seven no-hitters.