Park City softballer to play at NAIA level
It’s safe to say several of the softball players in Park City this week for the 10U and 12U Triple Crown Fastpitch World Series will go on to play softball in college. But, for the longest time, no Park City High School softball player had ever gone on to play softball on a scholarship.
That changed in 2013, when Cassidy Chester graduated from PCHS and went to Dawson Community College, a two-year junior college in Glendive, Montana.
After two years with the Bucs, Chester will become the first PCHS softball player to play at a four-year school. Next spring, she’ll take the field with Presentation College, an NAIA school in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Chester was successful at Dawson, appearing in 38 games in two years. She finished her 2015 season, in which she was a captain, with a 10-4 record, a 3.86 ERA, 58 strikeouts and 17 walks in 88 innings pitched.
In addition to those strong stats, Chester pitched one of her best games when her team needed it the most — in a Region 13 championship game against Dickinson State.
"I pitched the whole game and struck out the last batter," she said. "That was probably the highlight of my career so far."
Despite her success, Chester thought she may have reached the end of the road for her softball career. Then, she said, she had an epiphany.
"I decided I wasn’t ready to stop playing," she said. "I got in contact with the coach [at Presentation] and went to visit in January. I decided that would be a good fit for me after meeting the team and touring the campus."
Chester was impressed with the way Coach Erin Dickhausen runs the Presentation program, she added.
"I really liked the coach," she said. "She took over the program three years ago and, ever since, it’s seen massive improvement."
Chester hopes to help the team continue its recent growth when she takes the field for the Saints.
"It’ll be exciting," the soon-to-be junior said. "The class we’re bringing in this year has a lot of talent in it. It’ll be interesting to see how we compete."
Though she’s currently the only PCHS softball player to play at a four-year school, Chester hopes more Park City players follow in her footsteps.
"It’s definitely pretty cool and it’s great to know that I’m the first one," she said. "But knowing I have a chance to give other girls hope is great. Even though we live in a ski town and a winter community, you can still do it if you work hard."
Chester, who graduated from Dawson with high honors and a 3.87 GPA, will continue working on a degree in exercise science when she arrives at Presentation College.
When she heads off to South Dakota on Aug. 19, Chester said she’ll also be anxious to get to work with the softball team.
"I’ll be looking to go in and help that program win more than they already have," she said. "I’m just really hoping to help take the team to another level and just continue to work hard."
She said she’s thrilled to have an opportunity to continue playing the game that means so much to her.
"It’s hard to describe — I love this game," she said. "It’s helped me become who I am as a person. I’ve been so blessed to have all these opportunities. It’s been absolutely amazing."
Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to start limited summer operations on Saturday, including the operation of PayDay lift for hikers and bikers.