NEW BLOOMFIELD -- The New Bloomfield Lady Wildcats' Peityn Thomas officially signed to play college softball at Westminster College Thursday at New Bloomfield High School.
Thomas has been New Bloomfield's No. 1 pitcher since her sophomore season, along with being one of the team's leaders this season and last year.
In 2022, Thomas was named first-team all-district and threw some gems, including a no-hitter.
Thomas went 13-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 107 innings last season.
One of the main reasons Thomas chose Westminster was its proximity, meaning she's also near her family.
"Yeah, it was it was a big part of it," Thomas said. "As an adjunct, I tore my labrum; I didn't want to go far away. I didn't want it to be a job because I have four years left, and then I go off.
"But I couldn't be more thankful that Westminster wanted me to be a pitcher. Just my family and friends and all the support I've had. My coaches being there for me always was the best option ever. And being close to all my students and my family and friends can come watch me play, which is really awesome."
Along with Westminster being nearby, Thomas explained what else made the program a good fit.
"I chose the program because the girls want to be there," Thomas said. "Because they want to be there, not because they're being paid to be, they're forced to be there. Westminster has a really good exercise science program. And when I went on my tour and met all the softball girls, I felt an immediate bond with them, and I felt very welcomed like they were already a family of mine."
Making Westminster more of a homelike feel, Thomas will join fellow Callaway County natives Madi Plybon (Fulton, Class of 2024) and Ellie Bedsworth (North Callaway, Class of 2023).
"They're all great pitchers," Thomas said. "I have played with Madi. I've played against Ellie, obviously, my past three years. They're both phenomenal. I'm really excited for the future to be playing with them."
Looking back at New Bloomfield, Thomas reflected on some of her memories.
"Definitely my coaches always believing in me and helping us go to state my sophomore year," Thomas said. "I was a scared sophomore, not knowing what I was gonna do. And they were always there. My teammates always picked me up cheered on me in the circle. And just the bonding that we had at state was absolutely amazing. Districts every year and then the team bonding dinners we go out to is so much fun."
Playing in a highly competitive region, mid-Missouri, Thomas came up against some quality opponents. Thomas shared which teams stood out most of the ones she's faced.
"All the Father Tolton games really stick out to me, just because they're a really good team," Thomas said. "Fayette and Russellville most definitely because they have always been a tough rival of ours. My freshman year, we beat Fatima. My freshman year, we beat Russellville, and we lost my sophomore junior year. But this year, I have faith that we're gonna come back. We beat Russellville, so I'm hoping we beat Fatima."
Lady Wildcats softball coach Zach Moore shared his thoughts on Thomas signing for Westminster. Moore has been Thomas' head coach this season and last year and was an assistant during her first two seasons.
"Big day for her, we're very excited for her," Moore said. "I think she can go to the next level and perform really well. All you want as an athlete is to play as long as you can. And she has the opportunity now to keep going and keep playing at the next level. So we're excited for it. I'm glad she's staying local so we can go watch her whenever we get a chance to."
Thomas has been Moore's ace in his first two years as coach, and he shared what it's been like having her in that role.
"It's been fun, man," Moore said. "When she's on, we can compete with most teams in the state. So it's been a luxury to have her as a pitcher. Pitching is so important in this game, and she's gone out there and competed every single day and done everything I've asked of her."
Going away from the softball side, Moore described how Thomas is as a person.
"She's a great kid. We love having her around," Moore said. "She's got full of energy. Full of passion, full of fight, full of love. That drive they look for, so we're sad to see her go."
Thomas and New Bloomfield still have some big games, including one final postseason run with her as the Lady Wildcats' ace.