Surrounded by family, friends, school administrators and a table full of cupcakes Friday in the Mount Shasta High School library, senior Sydney Cross signed a letter of intent to attend Lewis & Clark University in Portland, Ore., and continue her softball career there.

A three-time Shasta Cascade League Most Valuable Player on Bears teams that won league championships, Cross has also earned All-Section, All-West Region and All-America honors as a high school player.

She said she chose Lewis & Clark, a private liberal arts college, after participating in a softball camp there last spring.

“The three coaches there are the best coaches ever,” Cross said after the signing ceremony.

She called Lewis & Clark a “distinguished school” and said “the biggest thing” about her decision to go there “is the education.”

She said she appreciates that the softball coaches “put school before softball.”

“We are really excited about Sydney joining our Softball Program next season,” Lewis & Clark head coach Shawna Cyrus wrote in an email response to a request for comment from the newspaper.

“Not only is she a very bright student, but she's an amazing all around athlete,” Cyrus wrote. “She comes from a great family and we're just excited to add her personality and hard work ethic into our team.”

As a Division III school, Lewis & Clark doesn’t give athletic scholarships, but Cross said she is getting some academic scholarships.

She said she wants to continue her career as a catcher in college, but may also play some third base or shortstop.

In 2015, Cross was the first player from Siskiyou County – and one of the few ever from the Northern Section – to earn All-America recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

She also made all-league in volleyball twice and ran cross country.

As a junior last spring, Cross had a .556 league batting average, .610 on base percentage, and .777 slugging percentage while playing standout defense behind the plate.

Her coach, Greta Jones, said no opposing teams were able to run on Cross.

Athletic director Mariah Goodrich-Jones introduced Sydney as “a wonderful student who is an exceptional athlete.”

“They’re lucky to have you,” Goodrich said of Lewis & Clark as she read the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Celebratory Signing Form that included Sydney’s statement of her intention to attend Lewis & Clark and play softball there and her intention to embrace the Division III philosophy.

In part, the form states:

“Consistent with Division III's goal of fostering an environment where students can follow their passions and discover their potential, Division III student-athletes are encouraged to:

“DISCOVER

“Division III student-athletes are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions beyond the classroom and field of play…to discover themselves.

“DEVELOP

“Division III institutions provide an environment that encourages student-athletes to develop into well-rounded adults. Small class sizes, the ability to participate in more than one sport, and an emphasis on participating in activities outside of the classroom are all hallmarks of the Division III experience.

“DEDICATE

“Division III institutions expect student-athletes to dedicate themselves to achieving their potential. Student-athletes must manage their busy schedules, keep up with class work and face the same challenges as the rest of the student-body.”