Senior Nicole Nelson became the first Park View High School softball player to sign a letter-of-intent to play the sport in college when she officially committed to Longwood College on Wednesday.

Nelson, who moved to Sterling from Las Vegas before her sophomore year, was a three-year varsity player for the Patriots who earned second team all-Liberty District honors as a junior and senior.

Nelson, who will receive a partial athletic scholarship, said she chose the Farmville, Va., school because of its location and strong Psychology Department. She also said she will have the opportunity to play shortstop, her preferred position.

Longwood, a Division II school, set a school record for wins in 1999 with a 38-15 record. Loudoun Valley senior pitcher Jennifer Potts, a two-time Northwestern District player of the year, also has signed with Longwood. Jodi Wolff-Coussoulos, a 1998 Fauquier graduate, just completed her freshman year with the Lancers.

8th-Grader's Practice Pays

Eric Pearson practices shooting a basketball nearly every day, but the Farmwell Station eighth-grader was still a little nervous while competing in the national championship of the AdvoCare International Shootout in Las Vegas, May 15 and 16.

"There were 160 people competing and about two bleachers full of people watching, so I was pretty nervous," said Pearson, 14. "I just tried to think that I was alone in there."

Pearson took first place in the 12- to 14-year-old division, winning a $500 college scholarship. He made 24 of 25 free throws and 20 of 25 three-point shots to give him a score of 84 out of a possible 100. His score would have placed him fourth out of all participants.

Pearson, who is 5 feet 8 inches and plays shooting guard, qualified for the national championships in Las Vegas by winning a local and then a state competition at the Ashburn Village Sports Pavilion. The 10 state champions with the highest overall score were invited to Las Vegas.

"I practice playing basketball every day, and I do a lot of shooting drills with my friends anyway, so I didn't really do anything special to get ready" for the national championship, Pearson said.