Lady Longhorn softball pitcher Tiffany Lubken, a Payson High senior, has signed a letter of intent to play next season for Glendale Community College.
According to Lubken's mother Valerie, the youngster signed Jan. 15 with coach Laura Dodrill's Lady Gauchos and was awarded a scholarship.
But before Lubken hurls for GCC, she has one more year of high school eligibility remaining and may turn out to be the ace hurler on the Longhorn pitching staff.
Lubken's goal this spring, she said, is to help the Lady Horns earn a state championship. She then hopes to go on to pitch for her amateur team in the ASA 18-years-and-under national tournament to be held in August in Salem, Va.
Lubken should be in excellent form for the upcoming high school and summer amateur seasons since she's been playing "travel ball" for the Phoenix-based 18-years-and-under Scorpio team.
As a pitcher on the Valley squad, Lubken helped hurl the team to the championship of the USSSA Junior Olympic Fast Pitch Softball state tournament held two weeks ago.
"She recorded three wins (and) allowed a total of three runs with her devastating changeup and mixture of drop and rise balls," Valerie Lubken said.
The youngster also swung a hot bat in the tournament.
"She went eight for 14 from the plate to add some valuable runs and RBIs for her team," Valerie said.
Lubken says she is excited about someday playing collegiate softball, but the journey to the big time hasn't been an easy one.
"Approximately five years ago, I asked my mom to let me play travel ball in Phoenix," she said. "The thousands of miles on the road, the practices once or twice a week in Phoenix, and the tournaments (played) year round have been a total family commitment."
On the way to becoming a college pitching prospect, Lubken has been coached by one of the state's most acclaimed softball pitchers Arizona Hall of Fame member Jay Bob Bickford.
"He has been giving me pitching and hitting lessons every week for the last three years," Lubken said.
The teenager's accomplishments on and off the diamond have her mother glowing with pride.
"Tiffany's hard work, dedication to her studies and positive attitude have finally gotten Valley coaches turning their heads to watch her perform," mom said.
Lubken's feats on the USSSA youth softball scene, Valerie said, is "how coach Dodrill saw her and why she asked her to become a part of the team in Glendale."
At GCC, Lubken hopes to major in pre medicine classes and someday become a doctor.
Currently, the youngster is taking classes at Eastern Arizona College, with her sights set on earning a nursing assistant certificate.
Once she enrolls at Glendale, her mother said, "she will finish her registered nursing (education), start pre med and pitch her heart out for the Lady Gauchos, to get noticed by a university."
After two years at GCC, Lubken's goal is to pitch for a Division 1A collegiate team.