As far back as she can remember, playing college softball was always Ringling native Hope McLemore-Robbins' goal.
"It was always a dream of mine," McLemore-Robbins said. "I started playing when I was young and the more I pitched, the more I wanted to be play at the Division I level."
Unlike most, Hope's dream came true. But that's not where the story ends.
Last month, McLemore-Robbins finished her career at the University of Arkansas and was named third-team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA).
"I was shocked," said McLemore-Robbins, when asked about hearing the news last month. "I would have never imagined that I would be blessed with such an amazing honor. Honestly, I started crying when I heard it."
You'll hear the word blessed come around when talking to McLemore-Robbins, who was a two-year captain for the Razorbacks. But her four years didn't come without adversity.
McLemore-Robbins suffered several injuries during her first three years at Arkansas, but responded from each one with a positive attitude, something that helped her close out her career in impressive fashion.
"It was tough," said McLemore-Robbins. "But it was just part of being a student-athlete. I had to rebound from those injuries."
She would, as McLemore-Robbins finished her senior campaign with the Razorbacks by going 6-3 on the year with a 2.28 ERA, which led all Arkansas' pitchers and was good for 10th in the Southeastern Conference. McLemore-Robbins ranks in the top 10 on the school's all-time list in strikeouts, wins, games started, shutouts, complete games, batters faced and innings pitched.
"For her to go from the small town of Ringling to Arkansas and the SEC, the premier softball conference in the nation, where she did well is a tribute to her hard work and commitment on and off the field," said Ringling softball coach Steve Pybas, who had McLemore-Robbins as his ace on the Blue Devils' 2008 Class 2A state championship team.
McLemore-Robbins finished with a 4.0 GPA and was named the University of Arkansas Scholar Athlete of the Year, a credit to her hard work and time management.
"I've always made academics and being successful in the classroom a priority," McLemore-Robbins said. "It's something I've done since I was in high school."
Her days in high school still hold a huge part in her heart, as McLemore-Robbins remembers her time at Ringling very fondly.
"My career at Ringling was so special. To be able to lead our team and our town to the state championship was unbelievable. I'll never forget it," McLemore-Robbins said.
It seems as if no one from Ringling will forget her either.
"It didn't surprise me at all that Hope was that successful," Pybas said. "She's truly one of a kind."
McLemore-Robbins began graduate school in June at the OU College of Health Sciences, as she pursues a career as a physician associate.
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