Munster's Dayton Elliott picks Northern Illinois for college ball

Munster junior Dayton Elliott verbally committed to play softball at Northern Illinois over the weekend, where she will play for coach Chris Sutcliffe, a Boone Grove grad.

Kale Wilk, file, The Times

When Dayton Elliott was 10, she experienced a pretty special moment in the world of softball.

She threw out the first pitch in legend Jennie Finch's final professional game for the Chicago Bandits.

And now the hits just keep on coming.

On Sunday, the Munster junior pitcher verbally committed to play softball at Northern Illinois, where the Huskies are coached by Boone Grove legend Chris Sutcliffe.

"I was given an invitation to their camp," Elliott said of NIU. "Almost the whole team was there. I loved the campus. It was pretty small and compact. The players told me what the campus was like. They have a good educational program for me.

"I want to go into elementary education."

Elliott will take her unofficial visit to the school in DeKalb on Tuesday.

Elliot was the Mustangs No. 2 pitcher last spring, spending more time at first base because of an injury to a teammate. She did beat Providence Catholic in the circle and took eventual state champion Crown Point into the eighth inning before falling 3-2.

She finished the season 7-3 with a 1.35 ERA. She batted .213 with five RBIs and 10 runs scored.

Munster coach Beth Thornburg is very excited for her rising star.

"Dayton has done everything she could possibly do to put herself in position to play at the next level," Thornburg said. "I don't know anyone who has gone to more camps, more exposures than her. She's done all the right things."

Thornburg said that Elliott's velocity tops out at 60 miles per hour, but she's gained more speed each year. The coach said the pitcher's movement is very good and that her change-up is just filthy.

"I'm happy for the kid," Thornburg said. "She's done all the right things."

Elliott plays for the Chicago Cheetahs 18-and-under travel team and wanted to thank her coach, Brian Browman, for working with her. She also wanted to thank her pitching coach, Rick Baker, for helping her to get better.

"Playing Division I has been a big goal since I was 9," Elliott said. "Coach Baker showed me the ropes and helped me reach my dream. This take a big load off my shoulders.

"But I still have a lot of work to do. I want to show (Sutcliffe) I can do what I need to to be ready for the next level."

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Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.