BARSTOW It's that time of year when high school student-athletes begin to make their final decisions on where they'll be studying and playing in the fall. For Barstow's Miranda Peralta, the time to sign her Letter of Intent came last Friday.

Peralta has been a fixture on the Lady Aztecs softball squad for the past four years. Last season, she hit at a .446 clip to help Barstow capture its third consecutive Desert Sky League championship. Although injured at the season's start, she quickly made herself invaluable upon her return, belting out four home runs, four triples and four doubles, while driving in 22 runs and scoring 33, batting out of the number-two spot. She was healthy for her entire sophomore campaign, and batted .554 with seven triples and 28 RBI.

All that success resulted in Peralta getting interest from several schools. She's decided on Kansas Wesleyan University, which offered both athletic and academic scholarships.

Peralta visited other schools, but when she saw Wesleyan, she knew she was home. She spent a weekend at the campus in Salina, staying in the dorms and meeting with the softball players and coach.

"I had other options, but when I visited the campus, it caught my eye immediately. It's small, like Barstow, it's slow-paced," she said after signing her Letter last Friday at Barstow High School. "Plus, I wanted to get out of California, experience something different."

The Barstow slugger will be joining a Wesleyan squad that did well last year. The Coyotes went 35-14 overall, 12-6 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Playing at the college level is always a big step up for even the most talented high school athlete. Lady Aztecs softball coach Richard Johannsen, who is more than familiar with what Peralta can do, doesn't think the adjustment should be that difficult.

"Miranda is such a hard worker and I'm glad the work paid off. This is something she's been working toward her whole life," said the coach. "In her years on the team, she's done everything she's been asked to do. She's played every position except first base. Wherever our biggest need is, that's where she'll go. Whatever is asked of her, she can do it."

Wesleyan head softball coach Daryl Hoelting, Peralta's coach next year, is happy she's coming his way.

"We are excited to have Miranda come and play for our team," he said. "I really liked what I saw at her tryout. I believe she'll be a great asset to our program."

Before she becomes a Coyote, there's still another season left with the Lady Aztecs. Peralta is anxious to get started defending yet another DSL title.

"I'm really looking forward to softball," said the Barstow senior. "I definitely think we can bring home the title for another year."

The Lady Aztecs will kick off the season at the Colorado River Invitational, March 7-9. After that is the Quartz Hill Tournament, followed by the season's first DSL match, March 22 against Burroughs at Barstow High School.