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IHS’s Liveoak signs with Judson

Tears of joy filled the Isabella High School library Monday afternoon as senior Raelynn Liveoak signed an athletic scholarship to play softball at Judson College starting next fall.

Several of Liveoak’s family members and friends gathered as she penned her signature to the letter of intent that will put her on the mound or at first base—but more importantly, in school for a college education.

Raelynn’s family dedicated the signing to the memory of her father, Ray Liveoak.

“This is one of his dreams he had for his little girl,” they said in a statement. “We thank those who have stepped in along the way to help her achieve this milestone in her life.

“I’m so excited. I’m so glad I got a softball scholarship. It’s what I always wanted.”

Judson College softball coach Lee Jones first contacted Liveoak late last October to discuss her future at the next level.

Liveoak said she chose to play at Judson, located in Marion, because it was close enough to home for her grandparents and other family members to travel to watch her play.

She said IHS softball coach Mike Ratliff has been a positive influence on her as a player and a person ever since she stepped foot on the field.

“He’s helped me out a lot,” she said. “He’s kept my butt straight. I’m hard-headed.”

Proud of his senior star, Ratliff emphasized the leadership role Liveoak has played on the team through the good and bad times on the diamond.

“I’m real proud of her,” he said. “She’s a good girl. She’ll do really well at Judson. She’s been a leader since she stepped on the field. Everybody respects her. She just has a presence about her. Her teammates look at her and think everything’s OK even when it might not be.”

Liveoak has played softball since she was 7 years old.

In tears, her happy grandmother, Evelyn Groom, remarked about the effort Liveoak put in throughout her entire life to achieve what she did Monday afternoon.

“This is just what she’s worked for her whole life,” she said.