UNION TWP. | Dealing with opposing hitters was a breeze compared to the pressure Nickole Finch felt when she pitched in front of college coaches last season.
The Wheeler senior can go back to concentrating on throwing strikes after she verbally committed to IUPUI on Monday afternoon.
Finch led the Bearcats to a 19-8 record this season and trip to the IHSAA semistate.
“This just feels great,” Finch said of committing to IUPUI. “Now I can play a little more free. I don’t have to be so stressed out about the decision. It was stressful when the coaches would be there, but I just had to treat it like any other game.”
Finch shined in the postseason this year, throwing a no-hitter against Winamac in the Class 2A regional and then striking out 12 in a one-hit shutout against Carroll.
Getting her college decision out of the way now will allow Finch to concentrate on the rest of her travel season and then her final year with the Bearcats.
“That was never an issue with Nickole and she’s not the type that would’ve ever made it an issue,” Wheeler coach Marc Bruner said. “She had to miss a couple things we did this season to go on some recruiting trips, but I’d never have a problem with someone doing that.”
Finch is the first in a family of athletes to earn a D-I scholarship and joins current Wheeler assistant coach Jennie (Greene) Anderson as Bearcats that have played D-I softball.
“That means something to me,” Finch said. “I always wanted to play D-I and now I have the chance to do that.”
The Jaguars finished 18-31 last season, splitting a pair of non-conference games with NCAA tournament participant Valparaiso. Munster native Jocelyn Oppenhuis (Illiana Christian) will be a senior for IUPUI next season.
“I love the softball program,” Finch said. “I love the girls and I love the coaching staff. We’re an up-and-coming program and we’re going to be good.”