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College Signing: Jackson softball’s Sierra Burch to play for JeffCo

Sierra Burch did not start playing softball until she was 12-years-old, but this wasn’t because the Jackson senior didn’t want to get on a diamond as soon as possible.

Burch couldn’t compete in organized sports until she was a teenager because of medical issues, but once everything was figured out, she committed to the sport 100%. Burch only played in a recreational league to start her career, but she was introduced to a travel team a few years later when she was in high school.

Fast forward to today and Burch will now be playing softball collegiately as she signed her national letter of intent with Jefferson Community College last month.

“I’m really excited to continue my career, but I was sad that our season ended because I love school ball,” Burch said. “Playing in college and not having to stop what I love doing is going to be an awesome opportunity for me.”

Burch certainly made a name for herself as a member of Jackson’s softball team by recording a combined total of 67 hits, eight home runs along with 59 runs batted in and 39 runs scored the last two seasons. Burch also recorded a .452 batting average in 148 at bats in the span. This led Burch to being named first team SEMO All-Conference and Class 4 District 1 All-District for two years in a row.

“Ever since I started, I was in love with hitting — that’s all I really love doing,” Burch said. “I tried multiple sports, and [softball] was really the only one I felt passionate about. I mostly D.H., so hitting was my main focus. I just like the feeling it gives me.”

Burch’s main pitch she focuses on hitting is outside, which she describes as rare because not many batters go for it. Burch said she enjoys hitting the ball to right field because no one is expecting her to drive the ball there.

“It’s a rush that I can do that, and I, of course, like hitting home runs — that’s always a good feeling,” Burch said. “I got to prove myself with my hitting when I didn’t start out as early as everyone else did. It made me feel good about myself.”

While Burch was mainly Jackson’s designated hitter her junior year, she did see time at first base. However, Burch had to step outside of her D.H. role and started every game at third base in her final season with the Indians.

“I played a little bit of travel ball, so I told coach [Shawn Wilding] that if he needed me to play third I would for the team, but I wasn’t that comfortable with it,” Burch laughed. “He was like, ‘OK, you’ll do it.’ I was like, ‘All right, that’s great.’”

Burch only managed to record a fielding percentage of 74.1%, but she more than made up for that while she was an the plate. Burch recorded a team-high .464 batting average, 39 hits and 33 RBIs this past season along with two home runs, scored 21 times and was walked seven times.

JeffCo discovered Burch through her FieldLevel recruiting account, which former Indians head coach Josh Roach had her create. JeffCo saw both Burch and fellow senior shortstop Morgan Conklin play in districts their sophomore year and offered the two scholarships upon their official visit.

“[Morgan and I] have known each other since sixth grade,” Burch said. “We’ve been playing with each other for a while since I started travel ball. We had a class together in seventh grade P.E., and we kind of started talking then. Ever since then we’ve been pretty close.”

Burch said she has always looked up to Conklin because she is the type of player Burch aspires to be, who even helped her transition to third base this season.

“[Conklin] helped me a lot — she kind of encouraged me to play there and help me get over my fear of playing there,” Burch said.

Burch will start training for college softball this month and will also begin travel ball later this year, while she and Conklin also have a gym membership together. Burch said they will do “a lot of conditioning” to be prepared to play in college.

“The most exciting thing for me is [JeffCo] is a pretty high ranked school for their level,” Burch said. “A lot of my previous teammates have gone to schools that play JeffCo, so getting to play against them [will be great], and we play a lot of D-I level schools, so getting that experience [will be exciting].”

Off the diamond, Burch will focus on becoming a lawyer after taking criminal justice courses at Jackson.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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