WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Lakota West senior pitcher KK Mathis found an immediate connection with the James Madison University softball program.
After meeting JMU head coach Loren LaPorte and taking a campus visit, Mathis knew JMU was the best fit to continue her academic and softball careers.
On Aug. 7, Mathis announced verbal commitment to JMU on Twitter.
"I knew in my heart it felt like home," Mathis said.
Mathis, a Division I all-state selection in 2021, was the Greater Miami Conference athlete of the year this past spring. She has also played first base for the Firebirds and designated hitter during the summer for her travel team.
She helped to lead the Firebirds (30-2) to the Division I state semifinals in Akron. It was Lakota West's fifth state softball tournament appearance.
"She wants to keep playing softball after high school, and I tell you what from what I gathered the (JMU) head coach (Loren LaPorte) is very genuine and real personable," Lakota West softball coach Keith Castner said. "She really, really liked how she presented herself."
Mathis had a 20-2 record with eight shutouts and a 1.474 earned-run average for the Firebirds this past season. She had 191 strikeouts.
Offensively, Mathis hit .519 with 13 home runs, 16 doubles, 41 hits, 29 runs scored and 50 runs batted in.
She ranks first in program history for a season with slugging percentage (1.215 in 79 at-bats) and home runs (13). She is tied for first in program history for a season in extra-base hits (29) and bases on balls (30).
Lakota West returns several players from a state semifinalist squad in 2021. Mathis can't wait for next spring.
"This year should be a lot of fun," Mathis said. "We have the same girls - the same tight-knit bond and I think we have the same drive. Us getting beat out in the final four I think we have another kick in our butt to go out there and do it again."
James Madison University made its first Women's College World Series appearance this past spring, becoming the first unseeded team to win the first two games to advance to the state semifinals.
James Madison University completed the season with a 41-4 record and the program's highest rankings in the national polls at no. 4.
"They're a bunch of grinders," Mathis said. "I got to talk with two of the girls on my visit. They talked about how much they prepared and how fun it was and how worn out they were. What an experience it was (in the Women's College World Series)."
Mathis, who would like to study education or sports management, considered several other schools including Lehigh, Boston College, Miami University, Lipscomb, College of Charleston and Ohio State.