Iowa Central head softball coach Rick Sandquist and his staff saw something in Spencer High School graduate Bre Small that brought her to campus.
Now, two years later, Small has developed into a next-level pitcher, signing to continue her career at Graceland University.
Small, a sophomore, has picked up seven strikeouts in just over seven innings so far this year as the Tritons prepare for the long upcoming season.
"I can't tell you how far I've come from pitching at Iowa Central," Small said. "I'm glad Coach Sandquist had given me a chance. When coming to Iowa Central, I primarily had two pitches. Now, I have seven.
"I have worked hard in getting these down and continue to work hard to improve them. I have to remember to have confidence in myself."
Recent-Iowa Central grad, Alex Boyce, has also been a key in getting Small prepared for this season.
"Coach Boyce has done an extremely great job helping me as a teammate last year and a coach this year," she said.
Small appeared in 31 games as a freshman, making 12 starts. She led the Tritons in wins, putting together a 13-2 record with a save and three complete games.
In just under 102 innings inside the circle, Small struck out 64 batters and issued just 26 walks, recording a 3.37 earned run average.
"I try to be the best I can be on and off the field," she said. "Personal goals I'd like to achieve are my back-door curve and screwball, as these are the newest pitches I've learned.
"As a team, I'd like to see us move further into regionals this year. We have strong pitchers and some pretty amazing hitters. Team bonding and chemistry is very important as a team if we want to do great things."
As for Graceland, Small felt an instant connection to the school and softball program. The team competes in NAIA and the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
"When visiting GU this fall, I knew as soon as I stepped on campus - just like when I made my first visit to Iowa Central. It just felt right," she said. "I loveed that the university is small and everyone was friendly. I'm excited to play for Coach Todd and the Yellowjackets, but also playing with a former teammate.
"When I was staying at the softball house while visiting, I already felt like part of the team."
Payton Adwell, a catcher for the Tritons last year, is currently at Graceland.