It was a decision that Ashley Peters admits takes quite a bit of pressure off.
Heading into her junior year at Rock Island High School, Peters has the next step already taken care of, verbally committing to play softball at Purdue University.
"I feel pretty relieved because I was pretty stressed about it," Peters said. "It wasn’t my only offer so it was a tough decision but I am so relieved now."
Peters also had offers from Illinois State, Drake and Valparaiso, but the opportunity to play in West Lafayette, Indiana, was too good to pass up.
"When I went on my visit there, it all seemed to click with me," she said. "I’ve been wanting to go Big Ten, that was my dream. It just felt like, when I visited there, it was just what I wanted."
Peters is coming off a stellar sophomore season with the Rocks. She earned second team all-state honors from the Illinois High School Coaches Association and was first team all-Western Big Six after posting a 9-2 record with a 1.00 ERA with 77 strikeouts. She also hit .441 with eight doubles, one home run and 24 RBIs.
Peters' success was mirrored by the Rocks, who won a share of their first conference softball title since 1995.
"I think I have a lot of confidence going into my junior year," Peters said. "I know I still have a lot to learn though, I can't just stop now."
Peters announced her decision Wednesday night, waiting until she returned from California, where she was playing in the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship with the Iowa Premier Gold fastpitch team. Peters joined the Des Moines-based club team last fall.
"They've helped me a lot," Peters said. "We go to a lot of exposure tournaments and a lot of big tournaments where the college coaches come out every weekend."
Purdue is coming off a 20-36 record and 11th-place finish in the Big Ten last year under first-year head coach Boo De Oliveira. Peters said De Oliveira made it clear what type of player Peters can be when she joins the Boilermakers in three years.
"She wants me to come in and be one of the key pitchers so I know I have a lot of work to do," Peters said. "She sees me progressing a lot from now until I get there."
Peters' commitment doesn't just take the pressure off for the future, but it also carries on the legacy started by her mother, Debbie Peters (nee Styx), who had a hall of fame career at Indiana State University.
"It means a lot to me to follow in her footsteps," Peters said. "She's influenced me a lot."