Alyssa Matson was your typical 10-year-old. She didn't really know what she wanted to do so she did everything.
A little soccer. Some gymnastics here and there. Shooting some hoops and playing volleyball, too. And even some kick-the-can in her neighborhood in DeMotte. Then, something happened that changed everything.
She made her town's 10-and-under softball All-Star team. They got to the playoffs and started winning. And winning and winning and winning. It never stopped as they won the state championship.
That 2005 National Softball Association state title changed everything for the Kankakee Valley senior.
The celebratory signs heading into town, the parade in front of everyone and the hundreds of pats on the back let Matson know one thing.
"After that I knew I was a softball player," she said.
She has started every game since her freshman year for the Kougars, the last three years at third base. After Monday's tough loss at Lowell, Red Devils coach Pete Iussig couldn't stop talking about the vacuum glove and game instincts that Matson displayed on the diamond.
"That girl can flat out play," Iussig said. "She's amazing. I'm glad she's a senior because I'm tired of her stealing hits from us."
Matson, who will be a preferred walk-on at IUPUI next school year, is also K.V.'s leadoff hitter. Her speed is one thing. Her ability to hit the ball is another. The game IQ is quite high for this blossoming baller.
"Alyssa always comes to practice with a good attitude, she's always smiling," K.V. coach Brian Flynn said. "She comes to every practice to make herself better and to make the team better. I've never seen her show the 'It's about me' sort of stuff.
"She plays hard but she has fun. You don't have to have that mean game face on all the time."
Last year Matson batted .456, with a school-record 47 hits. She scored 27 runs with 16 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
Her average has dipped under .300 in this rain-shortened spring. But she's scored 12 runs with 11 RBIs, two home runs and nine stolen bases.
"I'm putting too much pressure on myself right now," Matson said. "Being the leadoff hitter I feel like I have to be the one to get on base and score. If I don't do that I get down on myself. I feel like I do all things, then when I don't do it I put more pressure on myself."
The Kougars started the year 9-1 but have struggled this week. Flynn knows that Matson's average will rise and his team will start scoring more runs. Most of Matson's teammates were members of the 2005 Dream Team.
They all know what it takes.
"I feel like our team has a lot of heart," Matson said. "At the beginning of the season we didn't realize how much talent we had. We know we can surprise everyone. Hopefully we can get past sectionals and not lose to Andrean again.
"That's what we really want to do."