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DeKalb's Morgan Newport to pitch for Illini

Morgan Newport has wanted to play softball for the University of Illinois for quite a while.

The DeKalb junior has a bunch of family members who went there, and she started going to the school’s softball camps when she was in seventh grade, something she said put her on the school’s radar.

Last weekend, Newport, who pitches and plays outfield for the Barbs, realized her dream.

The 2014 Daily Chronicle Player of the Year committed to the school three weeks after going on a visit to the campus in Champaign. She had interest from other schools but at the moment it was her only offer.

“Illinois had always been my dream school. Since I began pitching, that was my dream to play softball at Illinois,” Newport said. “It had been in my head for a long time, the excitement that I had when I was invited to go on the visit. I was so excited.”

Newport was the Barbs’ No. 2 pitcher last season as a sophomore behind Katie Kowalski, who will play for Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne next season. She’ll take over the team’s No. 1 spot in the spring after going 12-3 with a 1.58 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 712/3 innings in 2014.

She also was DeKalb’s No. 3 batter, hitting .458 with a .532 on-base percentage and .656 slugging percentage. She finished with three home runs and 31 RBIs for the Barbs, who made a sectional final for the second straight year.

As a freshman, Newport hit .386 with a homer and 26 RBIs, and had a 1.14 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 98 1/3 innings.

Newport said she’s pretty sure she will be used primarily as a pitcher with the Illini, but the coaching staff wants to develop her as an outfielder, as well.

“I’ll definitely be doing what they ask me to do,” she said.

Newport said there were plenty of qualities that made Illinois an attractive option in terms of softball and academics.

“There’s not one thing in particular I think I like the best,” she said. “I literally loved everything about it when I went on the visit. The passion that they have for excellence, it just wants you to be so successful and give your heart.”

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