JONESBORO — Blazer Arena was busy Wednesday afternoon as five Valley View seniors in four sports signed to compete at the college level.
Infielder Wil French signed to continue his baseball career at Arkansas State. Reese Owens and Ashley Lamkin signed to play volleyball, Owens with Union (Tenn.) and Lamkin with Harding. Infielder Abigail Pittman signed to play softball for National Park College in Hot Springs, while Sidney Dunham signed with TCU’s nationally ranked equestrian program.
French is one of at least eight Arkansas high school products who will be part of Arkansas State’s 2020-21 recruiting class, a list that will also include Northeast Arkansas products such as Jonesboro’s Sawyer Bentley, Marion’s Daedrick Cail, Gosnell’s Cooper Pieri and Pocahontas’ Dawson Chester.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about pretty much my whole life,” French said of signing day. “I’m excited, ready for the next four years.”
French had 93 hits and 45 runs batted in during his first two seasons with the Blazers and has a career .431 batting average. He belted seven home runs as a sophomore.
“You’re going to get a kid who’s really advanced at the plate,” Valley View baseball coach Josh Allison said. “He knows his swing inside and out, he knows how to hit and he can hit to all fields. He’s a real mature hitter. On top of being such a good hitter, he’s very solid defensively.”
Owens and Lamkin signed at the same time, living out a dream they’ve had since they started playing volleyball together in junior high.
“Me and Reese are best friends, we have been since we started playing together in the seventh grade,” Lamkin said. “To accomplish something so great with someone you love so dearly, even if we’re not going to the same college, it’s amazing. It’s awesome.”
“We’ve always imagined it and when Gracie McGee signed last year, we were like, ‘We’ll get to do this together next year,’” Owens said. “It’s been a goal we’ve always worked toward.”
Owens, an outside hitter who suffered a season-ending knee injury in early October, and Lamkin, a middle blocker, both earned all-state honors twice as the Lady Blazers won a state championship in each year of their careers.
Pittman batted .393 as a sophomore for Valley View’s softball team, helping the Lady Blazers post a 26-2 record while winning district and regional championships. She started 25 of 28 games at second base, making no errors in 22 chances, and produced six doubles, three triples and 12 RBI at the plate.
“I’m so happy I get to further my career with NPC,” Pittman said. “I’ve had some amazing coaches and family members who have stood beside me.”