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Franklin Regional's Jackson signs on with UMBC

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 8:52 p.m.
Murrysville Star
Murrysville Star
Kaelin Jackson signs her National Letter of Intent to play softball for Maryland-Baltimore Country while her parents, Karl and Christine, look on at Franklin Regional High School on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Matt Grubba | Murrysville Star

Franklin Regional softball's power bat is on her way to the Bay State.

Senior catcher Kaelin Jackson signed her National Letter of Intent to join the softball program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County on the first day of the early signing period, Nov. 14, with her parents and coach in attendance in the guidance office at Franklin Regional High School.

Jackson has been a fixture in the Panthers' varsity lineup since reaching high school, and while she generally plays behind the plate for Franklin Regional, she has the versatility to move to most any position on the diamond. That versatility made her an appealing prospect for UMBC, a Division I school and member of the America East Conference.

“The campus is really nice, and it's the type of campus I was looking for,” Jackson said of the school, which is located less than 10 miles southwest of the city of Baltimore. “They have a good softball program, and it's an honors college, so there's a lot of smart people there, too.”

Jackson settled on UMBC over her other finalist, Ivy League member Penn, for the combination of softball and her desired major, biochemistry.

“I made sure that all the schools I was looking at had the academic things I wanted, too, because that's the most important thing,” Jackson said.

After talking with head coach Joe French and the other coaches for the Retrievers, Jackson feels as if she's ready for the challenge of Division I softball and wants to stay sharp through her senior season at FR and the summer before her arrival in Maryland.

“The coaches expect me to play competitive softball in the summer, like I've done for the last four or five years,” said Jackson, who plays her summer ball with the Pittsburgh Power, one of the area's top clubs.

“The coaches also have a summer conditioning program that they like to have their players do.”

Jackson's early signing makes good on her earlier commitment to UMBC, and it will allow her to focus on her senior season with the Panthers — Franklin Regional returns six other seniors with Jackson — as well as the other events that go along with her final year of high school.

“I verbally committed right before school started, so it's nice to have that weight off my back going into my senior year,” Jackson said.

“We're in a new section this year, so it's going to be a little tougher for us. But the coaches are working on some new things with us, andI think if we work hard in the winter, like we always do, we'll have a good chance at making the playoffs and winning the section.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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