#NationalSigningDay2022: Thomas soars with the Eagles as she signs for softball
“Her success at the plate and on the field has not come without challenges but Claire has shown unwavering commitment to growth.”
On February 2, Claire Thomas signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and athletic career at Juniata College. She will be playing softball for the Juniata Eagles.
Thomas has been part of the varsity softball team all four years, and she is part of the Maryland Chill team. In addition to varsity softball, Thomas is also part of the varsity field hockey team and has taken challenging courses such as AP Environmental Science.
Thomas chose Juniata because of the friendly environment, small class size, and major focus on environmental science.
“Juniata, the community was very nice and welcoming. I think that the girls on the Juniata softball team were very nice and super encouraging, and I had a really good time spending time with them,” said Thomas.
Throughout the process of college selection, Thomas had several offers. Her top three colleges included Concord and Elizabethtown. Thomas signed up for a softball camp at Juniata, and she was offered a position based on her highlight reels and performance.
“I found Juniata because one of my friends plays softball there, so I decided to go to a camp there. I met the coach and I did an overnight visit and she offered me a position. . . I play travel softball on the MD Chill. We travel up and down the East Coast,” said Thomas.
Head softball coach Andrea Poffinburger has watched Claire grow from a young athlete to a college recruit.
“It isn’t necessarily about how she has been playing but I have known Claire since she was a young athlete attending our softball camp. I’ve watched her grow into a young, confident young woman on and off the field. It has been so cool to watch that from a young age to adulthood for Claire,” said Poffenberger.
Her main focus on the field is third base but she also has a powerful swing and determination to always improve.
“Claire is a key player to our offense. She typically hits in the middle of the line-up and we look to her to drive in runs when we need them. She also has a powerful swing which makes her a dangerous extra base/home run hitter,” said Poffenberger.
Poffenberger has seen Thomas grow as an athlete over the past eight years as she has attended numerous softball camps as a child at Linganore and has been part of the varsity team with Poffenberger for all four seasons.
“Over the past 8 years, Claire has grown into a tough-nosed 3rd baseman playing the hot corner with grit and determination to be the best possible version of herself on a daily basis. She typically hits in the middle of the line-up and they look to her to drive in runs when it’s needed. Thomas has a powerful swing which makes her a dangerous extra base and/or home run hitter,” said Poffenberger.
Outside of softball, Thomas would like to pursue a career as either an environmental scientist or park ranger.
“I love the Raystown Lake Field Station for environmental science majors. It offers a semester for students to research. . . that’s what I’m most excited about,” said Thomas.
Thomas has learned through her time at third base to work through her nerves about playing softball. Playing at a higher level can be challenging for any athlete, but Thomas is ready for the challenge.
“I’ve played in a lot of tight games where I just had to perform under that pressure. I think I finally broke being nervous and making mistakes under that pressure because I know in the end it will all be okay as long as you try your hardest. That is really the most you can do,” said Thomas.
Thomas is always working to improve. Whether it be in school or on the field, she is always putting in effort to get better. She also dedicates her time to both her club team and her Linganore team during the off season to improve.
“My favorite part about coaching Claire is that she is a perfect mix of focus/determination to win with fun. She works very hard in season and off season to get better both offensively and defensively but she is also an athlete that loves the game. She has fun playing and makes it fun for the people playing on the field with her and coaching her,” said Poffenberger.
Her parents, Tracy and Jeff Thomas, are Claire’s biggest supporters. Jeff Thomas has been her coach and supporter throughout every team she has been a part of. Thomas believes that’s what has shaped her into the player she is today.
“I think my mom and my dad are my biggest supporters. My dad has been through every team that I have gone through and has been my coach for as long as I can remember. He always just finds things I can work on, gives me drills, always gives me support and feedback that I need, and he always takes me to tournaments, ” said Thomas.
Staying on a busy schedule and keeping up with school and softball is not something new for Thomas. She has played softball for a total of 12 years, and travel ball for around 9. She is no stranger to hard work according to her father Jeff Thomas and coach Andrea Poffenberger.
“I think just staying on a busy schedule, making sure I go to all my classes and finishing all my homework before or after practice, and just making sure I stay on top of my grades, I think I’ll be able to manage. And plus I have a lot of options for tutoring and my teammates helping me stay on schedule,” said Thomas.
Both on and off the field Thomas is always trying to spread positivity.
“She has fun playing and makes it fun for the people playing on the field with her,” said Jeff Thomas.
Find more of Thomas’s highlights here, and look out for her on third base this spring season on the varsity softball team.
I’m just going to miss Claire the person. She is such a unique, fun kid who you like to be around. Her smile is contagious and she is such a good role model for young athletes coming up through the program. . . I wish you the best of luck, I know your future is bright and full of big accomplishments.” said Poffenberger.