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Canetto signs with Liberty University softball
When it comes to high school student-athletes, it is rare for a teenager to commit to a college in any sport 22 months before signing day and stay with that choice, however, Kara Canetto is a rare talent.
With a Screven County High School media center filled with friends, family, coaches and other supporters, senior Canetto signed her letter of intent on Nov. 9 to play softball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Canetto, not only a standout for the Lady Gamecocks but also with her travel ball team the Georgia Impact Fastpitch, made good on her commitment to the Big South Conference program after she announced her intentions in February 2016.
The reigning Region 4AA Player of the Year who has set multiple school softball records and traveled to tournaments throughout the United States and as far away as California said Liberty has a superb softball program and the overall feeling was like “home.”
“The Screven County High School softball program has been blessed to have had Kara in its program these past four years,” said JR Doyle, the SCHS head coach. “She certainly has left a positive mark on our softball program. Kara’s work ethic and performance mimics some of the best players to ever come from this softball community.”
Canetto has hit for average; hit with in-the-gap power; shown base running skills and speed; displayed throwing ability; and shown fine fielding abilities. While she is expected to play in the outfield at the next level, Canetto also registered 28 wins over her four SCHS years.
“Kara has set the bar high for future Gamecock softball players,” Doyle said. “Her dedication and drive to succeed led to an outstanding career here at SCHS. I believe these same qualities will enable Kara to be successful at Liberty University.
“Kara has always been a pleasure to coach. She has been committed to our program from the beginning,” Doyle said. “It’s an exciting time for Kara, her family, coaches, friends and teammates. We look forward to watching her grow and prosper at Liberty U.”
Canetto said of all the schools she visited through softball, camps she attended and tournaments her Georgia Impact team and she played in Liberty stood out above the rest. The Christian-based school is strong in academics and athletics.
“It felt like home. I could spend four years there and not miss home,” said Canetto who owns SCHS single season and career records for hits, runs, batting average, and stolen bases.
Although this home is not necessarily like Sylvania home’s temperatures. It does snow and it does get cold.
She said she has already experienced being up at Liberty with a water bottle in her backpack. The water inside the bottle froze while she was on campus.
While some colleges across the nation visibly put a majority of its athletic financing toward such sports as football, Liberty, Canetto said, has a well-funded softball program to go along with all the sports at the school.
Liberty has its own $3 million stadium and own training and conditioning center.
Canetto said the Liberty softball head coach Dot Richardson was involved in the design of the softball facilities. Richardson is a two-time Olympic softball gold medalist.
“It looks like a professional softball stadium,” she said. “The whole campus is growing. Every time we go up there, they are building something new.”
Canetto said the Liberty coaches are looking to have her play in the outfield and she will be given the opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman.
Planning to major in nursing, Canetto said she will go to Lynchburg in July for two classes and then will return in August for the Fall term.
“I have played softball for eight to nine years and I want to thank all my coaches for putting up with me all those years,” she said. “I am thankful for my parents spending the countless hours with me playing softball and I want to thank them for traveling with me no matter where the tournament was.
“I want to thank everybody for everything they have done for me,” she said.
And Canetto’s parents also are pleased with the college selection.
Anna Canetto said the softball camp at Liberty made her more comfortable as a parent. She said the coaches pulled the parents to the side and spoke with them about the school’s standards. She said they told her and the others in the group that if the students were coming to only party or do the “wrong thing,” then this was not the school for them.
“[Kara} has put Christ first before academics and before athletics,” Anna Canetto said.
Kara’s mother too was impressed with the softball facility, but noted the school stressed academics. She said tutors are available for the student-athletes.
“All you have to do is ask,” Anna Canetto said of the tutors. “It’s beautiful up there.”
Ricky Canetto said he is proud of his daughter’s accomplishments thus far and what she can achieve in the future.
“She works hard,” Ricky Canetto said of Kara, whose siblings are J Canetto and Will Canetto. “She loves it. That’s her game. I believe she was born with a glove on her hand.”
Ricky Canetto the Liberty coaches have been great.
“She loves the coaches and they love her,” Ricky Canetto said of Kara.