Tuesday night's ceremony was a long time in the making for St. Martin's Katelyn Gruich.
The senior softball standout held a party to celebrate her signing with South Alabama. Prior to the celebration, Gruich looked back fondly on how far she has come.
"I've dreamed of this day since I was a little girl," she said. "I think it's every little girls' dream once they first pick up a ball."
The corner infielder said she committed to perennial power South Alabama in January 2014. She said she has received interest from Florida State, Notre Dame and Auburn, among other schools, but felt USA was a perfect match close to home.
"I chose USA because it really had a family atmosphere similar to the one I belong to at St. Martin," she said. "As soon as I stepped on campus I knew it was the right fit for me."
A member of the Sun Herald's 2015 All-South Mississippi softball team, Gruich hit .582 with nine home runs, three triples, nine doubles and 35 RBIs. She also had a .682 on-base percentage and a 1.113 slugging percentage.
Gruich's nine homers, as well as her slugging percentage, ranked second in the state. Her OBP was third, according to MaxPreps.com.
"She's just a joy to coach. You couldn't ask for anything more," coach David Price said. "She's a good teammate, leader and everything a coach can look for in a player."
Like the Coast's other recent signees, Gruich's work ethic has helped separate her from many of her peers.
"She's a grinder. She really likes to work," Price said. "She takes her craft extremely seriously and puts a lot of work into it. She does a lot on her own and just gets better every day."
Gruich is the third South Mississippi softball standout to sign during the early signing period, joining Harrison Central's Madison Burge and St. Patrick's Emma Rae Castanedo, who both signed with Mississippi College on Monday. She's also the second St. Martin athlete to sign with South Alabama in the last week. Basketball standout Savannah Jones signed with the Jaguars on Friday.