April 22, 2015

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – It’s hard to imagine a student-athlete more cheerful and pleasant to be around than John A. Logan College’s Madison “Maddie” Craig.

Ever smiling whether she drives in the game-winning run or strikes out, the Murphysboro native quite simply enjoys life.

“I’ve had teammates and opposing players ask me why I’m smiling when I’m batting or in the field,” Craig said. “I don’t really know. I have always been like this. It’s just how I feel about everything, I guess. If I don’t get a hit, I just take the approach that I will do better the next time. I’ve enjoyed my two years here at Logan and I suppose it shows because I smile.”

Although she played only sporadically as a freshman, Craig was penciled into the leadoff spot of the batting order from the get-go this spring and has made the most of the opportunity.

She is batting a respectable .277; leads the team in runs scored with 21; is tied for most at bats with 94; and is second in doubles with six. Additionally, she has played a solid centerfield.

“Things have gone a lot better for me this season,” Craig said. “When I am at the plate, I am looking to see the ball and hit it solid somewhere. Defensively, I am more comfortable in center than playing one of the corner spots as I did last year. Not playing every day last year really opened my eyes and made me realize that I had to play hard all the time to have a chance at playing every day.”

Craig said she is hopeful the Volunteers (18-19 overall) can finish on a positive note by winning the Region 24 tournament. The regular season, which ended Saturday, resembled a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.

“I feel as though there is more team camaraderie this year. And we have talent. We just need to show that talent more consistently than what we have.”

Craig said she treats each at bat like it could be her last.

“I’m certainly open to playing at a four-year school somewhere next year, but I don’t know if I’ll get that opportunity, which is why I want to play to my fullest potential each and every time out. Playing college softball has been a good experience for me. I have made many good friends and have learned from our coaches.”

Outstanding in the classroom, as well, Craig said she plans to study pre-optometry.

“It’s four more years of school after I finish my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I have liked the idea of becoming an optometrist ever since I dissected an eyeball in science class in high school. I have job shadowed a doctor in my home town and hope to do something similar again this summer.”

Veteran Logan head coach Bruce Jilek said Craig has been an asset to the softball program.

“Maddie has become a better outfielder since graduating high school,” he said. “She has made some great catches and accurate throws to cut down runners. I like the fact that she brings a lot of energy to the field and works hard. She also runs the bases well and has really hit the ball well the last few weeks.”

One offensive highlight was a walk-off game-winning single against Olney. She also had a five-hit game

“More important, Maddie is a strong student and a very good person,” Jilek said. “I know she wants to become an optometrist someday. I’m confident she will be a good one.” 

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Steve O’Keefe at 618-985-2828 ext. 8569 or email at steveokeefe@jalc.edu.