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Crete softball pipeline: the gift that keeps on giving

By Jake Knabel on Jan. 10, 2019 in Softball

The Crete High School softball program is the gift that keeps on giving. In 2015 it gave Jamie Lefebure. Then MacKinsey Schmidt in 2017. It didn’t stop there. Camry Moore became the latest Cardinal-turned-Bulldog this past fall. With her she brings some of the most impressive credentials for any Concordia softball recruit in recent memory.

Moore follows the path worn by teammates who came before her, making the drive north of Interstate-80 while covering a distance of less than 30 miles. Close to home, but just far enough away has proven to be the sweet spot for a host of Crete alums.

Says Crete softball coach Shawn Carr, “As the years go, word of mouth has passed that it’s a good spot. It’s not just a great softball program, but it’s a great education at Concordia.”

New Bulldog softball coach Shawn Semler figures to put the talents of the Crete trio to use this spring. Opposing hitters will often be faced looking right up the middle at Moore in the circle, Lefebure at shortstop and Schmidt in center field. Schmidt earned first team all-conference accolades as just a freshman, Lefebure enjoyed her best collegiate season in 2018 despite missing time with injury and Moore is fresh off leading Crete to a state championship in the fall of 2017.

Lefebure first blazed the trail, then unwittingly opening up the pipeline. Her presence at Concordia certainly had an impact on the decision made by Schmidt, who played a stellar center field as a rookie.

“Having Jamie there was a big reason why I came because I know her work ethic and it just showed me what kind of team Concordia would be,” Schmidt said. “She is one of the hardest workers and it just reflected back on what the team would be like. I take a lot of pride in knowing that a lot of Crete people are here because it just comes to show how great this college is.”

Like Lefebure and Schmidt, Moore appears to be ready to make a significant impact as a freshman. Lefebure immediately impressed former Bulldog head coach Todd LaVelle with her strong arm in the middle of the infield. That bat has also come around for Lefebure, who hit better than .300 as both a sophomore and junior. She helped the 2017 team to a 34-14 overall record.

As noted by Carr, Lefebure is also a tremendous singer. Carr fondly remembers bus rides back from games when Lefebure would belt out the latest popular R&B or hip hop songs while everyone on the bus just took it in. Carr highly recommended Lefebure to LaVelle, and not just because of her singing. She quickly came to enjoy life as a Bulldog.

“It turned out the fit for her was amazing,” Carr said. “She loves the school and speaks highly about it. She came back to a couple of our practices and said that Concordia is awesome and that she was enjoying her experience. With MacKinsey Schmidt she was the next one to come down to Concordia. She asked what I thought of Concordia. I told her to go to Concordia for a visit and talk to Jamie. She came back and said it fit what she was looking for in a college experience.”

It seems fitting that Schmidt and Moore are again teammates. They started playing together at very young ages and spent hours and hours in the same vehicles on out-of-town trips as members of select softball teams. Those were fun times. Surely Moore has some good stories about Schmidt, whom Carr describes as a “riot.”

Moore’s recruiting story is a bit different from those of either Lefebure or Schmidt. Moore originally pledged a commitment to NCAA Division II University of Sioux Falls. However, the pull of home – and of her Crete teammates – was too much for her to ignore. It’s safe to say that Schmidt was overjoyed when Moore changed course.

“When Camry made her decision I was pumped,” Schmidt said. “I have been playing softball with her since I was seven so it was nice to get her back playing with me and not potentially against me. She was always the person I could trust to finish an inning pitching or even get that big hit.”

Moore became something of a local celebrity during a near impeccable 2017 high school season. She dominated both in the circle and in the batter’s box. Young girls of Crete look up to Moore. That’s certainly true of Carr’s daughters, who would often be over at the house of Al and Dede Moore, the parents of Camry.

Through it all, Camry remains humble and focused on the next big thing. Says Carr, “I’ve known Camry and her family basically since I got to Crete. I met her when she was a young age. She and her dad would be down at Tuxedo Park playing catch. When she was eight years old I could tell she was pretty good. I’d take my kids out to Al and Dede’s place and my kids would be missing. They would be in Camry’s room playing on an iPad or reading a book. All the kids in the area love Cam. They would come up to her and speak to her. She’s just such a great leader.”

In turn, Moore refers to the Crete softball program as “something special” and “one big happy family” while crediting the leadership of Carr for its success.

Moore should feel right at home as a Bulldog. Her community of support will only grow bigger and stronger.

“When I decided I wanted to come to Concordia, I think a lot of people were very excited for me,” Moore said. “The community is very supportive of the athletes at Crete High. I'm one of six athletes at Concordia who graduated from Crete last year, so I see a lot familiar faces. It was also a big deal for my family that I chose to only be 30 minutes from home. My grandparents and parents will be at every game they can get to.”

Carr’s support of the players he has coached does not end when they walk across the stage at their high school graduation. He plans to be a regular at Plum Creek Park this spring. His daughters will often tag along. Of course they will want to see Camry, Jamie and MacKinsey.

Says Carr, “Those kids all have a pretty special spot in my heart not just for what they’ve done on the field, but also what they do off the field. They’re great people and they will just continue to make those same types of memories at Concordia. They’re very fun and awesome people.”

The Crete trio made a lasting impact upon its community and high school. Now it continues to do the same while making Concordia its new home, just a few miles up the road.