A member of the Drake softball coaching staff talked to Pleasant Valley's Jose Lara about his daughter, Alexia, last month at the state tournament.
That initial conversation has quickly evolved into a relationship.
Alexia Lara, a Class 5A first team all-state performer, committed to the Missouri Valley Conference program in Des Moines on Thursday, starting in the 2018-19 school year.
"It has always been my dream since I was younger to play Division I college softball," Lara said. "It is kind of surreal, and a big weight lifted off my shoulders.
"I've been working hard to get recruited, and it finally happened."
Lara was at the forefront of PV's first state softball championship in July.
Named to the all-tournament team, she closed out all three games in the pitching circle and smacked a game-winning home run in the ninth inning of the state quarterfinal against second-ranked West Des Moines Valley.
"The state tournament definitely helped (my recruiting)," Lara said. "I'm sure Drake probably had seen me previous to the state tournament, but that week added to it for sure."
Lara also had conversations with Virginia, Western Kentucky and Minnesota-State Mankato.
She took a visit to Drake on Monday and was offered a scholarship.
"I really fell in love with the coaches," Lara said. "They really seem compatible with each other and fun to be around. When coaches are that way, the team usually is that way. You could sense the chemistry was there."
It is a chance for Lara to be closer to some extended family. Before the Laras moved to the Quad-Cities, they lived in suburban Des Moines. Lara still has grandparents, an aunt and uncle along with cousins residing there.
"It is my home away from home," she said.
Lara, a first team all-conference and all-Metro selection, batted .473 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs this summer in leading the Spartans to a 35-win season. She was 12-3 with a 1.45 ERA in 106 innings pitching.
She has pitched, caught and played third base in her time at PV. The initial plan is for Lara to be a utility player at Drake.
"I really don't mind where I play," she said, "as long as I get to play."
Lara's older sister, Jasmine, played on PV's state runner-up squad two years ago. She is beginning her second season with the softball program at Western Illinois.
At Drake, Lara will be teammates with Davenport Assumption all-state pitcher Nicole Timmons, who is entering her freshman season this fall.
"It is exciting to know somebody," Lara said.
First, Lara has one more season of high school softball. The Spartans return all but two starters from this summer's squad.
"I need to work hard, harder than I have been," Lara said, "so I'm prepared when I get up there to be on the Drake team."