Vanessa Gonzalez and Brayden McLaughlin will be playing ball at Linfield and Dean Colleges.

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove's Vanessa Gonzalez signed her letter of intent to play softball at Linfield College with family, friends and coaches April 25 at Forest Grove High School.Forest Grove High School sent a couple more kids off to college.

Vanessa Gonzalez and fellow senior Brayden McLaughlin signed letters of intent during small ceremonies in the Basinski Center April 25-26.

Gonzalez will be attending and playing softball at Linfield College in McMinnville next fall. The pitcher and outfielder for the Vikings chose Linfield over a couple other small universities in the Seattle area and did so based primarily on the strength of their softball program. Forest Grove head coach Katy Carrillo — who also played softball at Linfield — spoke glowingly of Gonzalez and is excited about her prospects at the college level.

"I think Vanessa is one of the top five players to ever come through Forest Grove," Carrillo said. "She has the mental approach you need to be successful, and she's tough and a great leader in general."

Gonzalez is hitting close to .600 for the Vikings this season and while planning to be an everyday player in college, Carrillo said pitching may be an option for the standout as well.

"I think Linfield is a great choice for her because she's a multifaceted player that can be an outstanding outfielder as well as a pitcher if they need it," said Carrillo. "She's not going there to pitch, but she would do a good job if called upon."

But her bat is what got her to Linfield and her coach says it's her production at the plate that makes her so dangerous.

"She's a great hitter and that's what they're looking for at Linfield, someone who's going to produce," said the coach. "I also think she'll thrive when she gets around a group of kids who are equally invested and on a same talent level."

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove's Brayden McLaughlin signed his letter of intent to play baseball at Dean College in Franklin, MA with family, friends and coaches April 25 at Forest Grove High School.Gonzalez still has yet to decide what she plans to study in college, but is excited to put her high school years behind her and get started on her next chapter in life.

"I'm going to miss my teammates, friends and teachers at Forest Grove, but I'm ready to move on," Gonzalez said. "I'm still undecided regarding what I'll study, but education is an interest for me and maybe even something with sports."

She also wanted to thank her dad, Pete, for the countless hours he's spent coaching her throughout the years, as well as her mother Coral, counselor and friend Vicki Van Loo, and Forest Grove assistant coach Vallie Takahashi for helping her along the way.

In addition to Gonzalez, McLaughlin too signed, a day later in a ceremony that included his mother, Mandy, dad, Jason, sister, Caitlyn, Forest Grove head coach Justin Engeseth and FGHS Athletic Director Doug Thompson. The senior will be attending and playing baseball for Dean College, a Division III university in Franklin, Massachusetts.

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