Eberle SIU signing

GCMS's Madi Eberle poses for a photo with her softball teammates after signing her letter of intent to play softball for Southern Illinois University.

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GIBSON CITY -- Madi Eberle waited over a year for her signing day.

On Wednesday, it had arrived as the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley senior signed her letter of intent to play softball for Southern Illinois University.

"It's great for it to be final," Eberle said. "It's awesome after that whole year of me waiting. It's awesome for it to be final."

Eberle committed to SIU in October 2018. Before then, she also had offers from the University of Minnesota, Northern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.

What made SIU stand out, Eberle said, was "How they treated their players, how it was family-oriented."

The family atmosphere was evident when Eberle visited the Carbondale-based campus in September 2018.

"Everybody was so close, all the teammates, the coaches," Eberle said.

Eberle described SIU head coach Kerri Blaylock, who is the all-time winningest coach in Saluki history with a record of 693-383-1 record, as a motherly figure.

"I really enjoyed that," Eberle said.

Eberle is coming off a junior season in which she was named to the All-State First team after she helped GCMS to its first regional title since 2014. As a sophomore, Eberle was named to the MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Team after she won 16 games in the circle with a 1.62 ERA and an area-best 302 strikeouts.

The two-time all-area selection has compiled 867 strikeouts during her three seasons in the circle. The Gibson City native hit a combined .498 with 14 home runs during her sophomore and junior seasons.

Eberle expressed her gratitude for her time at GCMS, as well as her time playing summer travel ball for Mattoon-based Premier Fastpitch.

"I'll extremely miss being at GCMS," Eberle said. "I'd like to say thank you to all the coaches I've ever had. I'd like to say a special thank you to Dan and Kristi Paulson, my travel coaches, and then (GCMS head softball coach) Kara (Smith) and coach (Colton) Leake for high school, and then Matt McWilliams, my first-ever travel ball coach, and then I'd also like to thank my family and all my friends."