Katie Crandol hoped to be a college softball player when she was little. That's the dream of many kids.
But when life threw the Andrean senior a curve ball to the chin, that dream was put on the back burner.
On Friday at noon, the fruition of a dream came true when Crandol signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball at South Suburban College.
“I didn't think I'd be playing softball in college because of what I've been going through,” Crandol said. “But I am so happy that dream came true.”
In the spring of 2011 Crandol began to feel ill. Eventually tests revealed she had a three-inch cancerous tumor in her brain. Surgery came, followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Despite her courageous fight for additional days, Crandol never stopped hoping to get back out on the dusty softball diamond.
At a travel tournament in 2011 in Portage, Crandol played her first game since the surgery. Larry Babcock, South Suburban College's softball coach, was umping.
A connection was made. The Valparaiso resident kept the cancer survivor on his radar.
“What a fantastic story,” Babcock said. “Softball was not even a thought for her two years ago. I was there her first game back and to see the excitement on her face, that's why I do what I do.
“We're going to use her on the mound, she'll be in our rotation. We're not going to push her. We want her to be healthy. The good Lord has blessed us in getting a talent like this.”
Crandol didn't play a lot for last year's Class 3A state champion 59ers softball team. Fighting the illness has held her back. She said she is feeling stronger and better.
Crandol's connection with Babcock made Friday's signing all the more special.
“He told me a couple weeks ago, 'I'd be the happiest man on the earth if you signed with us,'” Crandol said. “He said he's so happy to have me. After everything I've been through, having a chance to play college softball is awesome. A dream come true.”