Both Knox College and the Midwest Conference are keenly aware of the athletic ability of Gardner-South Wilmington graduate Amber Eisha.
After all, for a third straight season, Eisha was named all-league for her efforts on the softball field. In addition to being recognized by the MWC, Knox College stepped up and awarded Eisha with its female athlete of the year award this spring.
"For that one, I actually teared up when I was told I was getting it," Eisha said.
The Knox annual female athlete award is called the Harley Knosher Award and is named after the longtime coach and athletic director who was at Knox for the better part of 50 years. Eisha said that it's likely the culmination of several years of dedication to the sport.
"I pretty much feel like I have been getting better," she said. "I've put in a lot of hard work and coach has also been extremely helpful in making me better."
While moved to tears by getting the Knocher Award, Eisha said she also felt moved by being named all conference for a third straight year.
"Each year that it has happened, it's still a surprise," she said. "With the competitiveness and everything, it's still a surprise."
Eisha was named as a pitcher on the All-MWC team after pitching in 24 games, 13 as a starter. She completed 10 games, threw two shutouts, had a save and struck out 50 batters in 103 overall innings. Still, that may not have been all that the MWC looked at in naming Eisha.
"Honestly, I'm not sure if they look at the overall stats or not," she said.
Regardless, her numbers in conference play were also outstanding. In 55 innings of league play, Eisha had 21 strikeouts and she had a 3-4 record. She shut out both Beloit College and Grinnell College.
Eisha said that she's been asked to perform a similar role for the Prairie Fire for three years now.
"We have two other pitchers, but I do most of the pitching," she said. "(The workload) has been about usual, just like the past two seasons."
So, does she like shouldering that load as a pitcher?
"I do. I do, and it's because I'm so used to doing it going all the back to grade school and high school," Eisha said. "I'm comfortable being in the circle. I love getting out there and doing my thing."
When she's not pitching, Eisha plays third base. No matter what position she played on defense, though, she was the leading hitter of the Fire this past season. In the batters box, Eisha hit a robust .381 with four home runs and 18 RBI. She had eight doubles, a .419 on-base average and a .608 slugging percentage.
She said that she had two favorite highlights from this past spring — one of the team and one individually.
"Definitely our sweep of Illinois College because that's the first time we have done that in 10 years," she said. "Individually it was hitting two home runs against Monmouth. That was huge because they are a big rival. Also, I was going to go there first, but then after I visited Knox, I changed my mind."
Against MWC South Division teams, Eisha batted .383 in 47 at-bats.
Perhaps the only down side to the season was that the Prairie Fire as a team finished well under .500.
"I love my team and we always play hard. It is a little disappointing not coming out on top," Eisha said. "I know the team can improve because we do have a lot of talent."
A sociology major, Eisha said that she's really enjoying her time at Knox.
"I love it here," she said. "The atmosphere and the education I'm getting here."
With one more year to go, Eisha keeps moving up the list of several all-time records. She's second in pitching appearances in a season, is tied for third in shutouts and is seventh in strikeouts as a pitcher. At the plate, she is tied for fifth in total bases, tied for seventh in hits and is tied for eighth in home runs.
So, what's left for her to accomplish next season?
"I don't really know. I'm hoping to make it a fourth straight year on the all-conference list," Eisha said. "As far as the team goes, we have some new girls coming in to fill positions for us and they are coming in at positions we need."