Witney Belliston, seated directly behind the pennant, takes a photo with her Thunder Ridge teammates and head softball coach Brendon Kopp after signing her national letter of intent with North Idaho College on Thursday afternoon at Thunder Ridge.

Thunder Ridge High School has its first college softball player.

Witney Belliston signed her national letter of intent with North Idaho College on Thursday in Thunder Ridge’s lecture hall that was almost standing room only. After signing, she took several photos with family members, coaches, teammates and classmates.

“I invited a lot of these people,” Belliston said. “I’m so excited. The best part is they’re all cheering me on.”

Belliston, who played her freshman and sophomore seasons for Bonneville, joins a North Idaho program that has won two consecutive Northwest Athletic Conference championships. That success and the first impressions she had upon visiting the Coeur d’Alene school over the summer ultimately influenced her decision to sign with the Cardinals. She also visited Yakima Valley College.

While in Coeur d’Alene, she met with the coaches and the team, toured the dormitories and classrooms and got to hit in the batting cages.

“I wanted to be part of a great team but also wanted to be able to have a lot of fun,” Belliston said. “They were super nice.”

North Idaho’s coaches also told her that they could help her continue her softball career after her two years in Coeur d’Alene have ended.

“It kinda depends on if I’m all softballed out,” Belliston said of possibly continuing to play once her two years in Coeur d’Alene have ended. “I doubt I will be.”

The Cardinals recruited Belliston as an outfielder, the position she has excelled at during her high school career. During her time at Bonneville, the Bees reached back-to-back 5A state tournaments. Prior to that, their last postseason appearance was in 2004. During Thunder Ridge’s inaugural season last spring, she batted .376, had a .430 on base percentage, a .588 slugging percentage, 34 runs scored (team best), 11 RBIs and hit two home runs. A 2019 Post Register all-area softball first-team selection, she was also named to first team for both the 5A District 5-6 and 5A/4A High Country Conference selections. Leadoff hitter for the entirety of her high school career, she has also played travel ball and was selected for the Fastpitch Northwest Championships last August in Centralia, Wash., which featured high school softball players from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. She played on team Idaho Red and was named to the all-tournament all-star team.

Her parents Brady and Sasha also spoke briefly before her signing, crediting softball for teaching her numerous life lessons, bringing influential people into her life and ultimately helping to make Thursday’s historic festivities possible.

“It’s been such a cool experience,” Belliston said. “I’m grateful I can to be an example to the younger girls.”

Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 542-6772 and find her on Twitter: @mwhereford.

Marlowe Hereford has worked for the Post Register since August 2011. She has covered 11 different high school sports, Olympic sports and recreational sports.