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Horner helped both her teams improve

When Lauren Horner's high school athletic career began, both her teams were starting a rebuilding process.

During her career she helped both programs return to contention and lay a foundation for future success.

"My whole class helped improve both teams," said Horner, a field hockey midfielder and softball short stop.

While Horner was part of a large senior class in both sports, she stood out among that group of talented athletes.

She scored four goals and assisted on seven others last fall. She was one of three midfielders named to the All Colonial League First Team. She was voted captain of the team and led it to an 11-6-3 record and a district playoff appearance.

"I am not a leader vocally," Horner said. "I was voted captain and I tried to step up and lead by example."

The Tiger field hockey team was three years removed from its last district title when Horner and her classmates came in as freshmen. She earned a starting spot her first year of high school field hockey and would do the same in softball.

As a sophomore Horner helped the field hockey team end a two-year district playoff drought. The Lady Tigers qualified for districts in each of the past three seasons and Horner has been the team's catalyst each of those years.

She earned her first All League First Team selection after her sophomore season. She was named Second Team as a junior. She also earned a Pennsylvania Field Hockey Coaches Association All Academic Award as a senior.

"She's been a leader on and off the field since the moment she stepped on as a freshman," said Northwestern head coach Jess Becker at Horner's college signing ceremony. "She has a wonderful work ethic. She's a team player. She has a great attitude. They're all attributes that make her a wonderful young woman, not just a good student athlete."

Last fall Horner led the field hockey team to its best season since 2006. The Lady Tigers came up a game short of league playoffs, but earned a No. 3 seed in districts, their highest seed since 2003.

"It was a great year for us," she said.

Horner's field hockey career started in elementary school. She lived in the East Penn School District at the time and was coached by several Emmaus High School players who would go on to Division I college careers.

With her high school success and exposure gained playing on club teams, Horner earned her own Division I scholarship. In less than a week she will start her first training camp at Monmouth University in New Jersey.

Next spring will be the first time in years that Horner won't play softball. If her senior high school season was her last in that sport, she can look back and know she made the most of it.

"It's going to be weird not playing softball," said Horner, who was once a competitive ski racer as well. "I'm used to playing two sports."

Northwestern's softball team came up one win short of a district playoff berth in Horner's junior year. But the team bounced back, going 10-6 in the league this year to make it's first trip to the league playoffs since 2008.

"This was my favorite year," said the four-year starting short stop. "We had a great team and we made it back to league playoffs."

Horner led the team in batting average (.393), slugging percentage (.896), on base percentage (.333), home runs (5), runs scored (24) and RBI (24).

As a lead-off hitter, two driving in two dozen runs was quite a feat.

After two years as a Colonial League Honorable Mention, she earned a First Team selection as a senior.

She left her mark on both Northwestern programs and helped rebuild both back to contenders.

For all her efforts and accomplishments, Horner is this year's Northwestern Press female Althete of the Year.