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Peaches James

Peaches James pitched at Nebraska from 2001-04.

Peaches James could have pitched just about anywhere in college.

"A lot of people had asked me, 'Why not Arizona?' or 'Why not UCLA?'" the now Peaches Keaton said. "I was like, 'No way. One-hundred percent Nebraska.'

"I wanted to show them I didn't need to go to Arizona or UCLA. Of course, those are great schools and they have tons of great athletes, as well, but so do we at Nebraska. I was ready to go toe-to-toe with those other teams."

Keaton did more than go toe-to-toe against some of college softball's powerhouse programs. She also helped elevate the Husker program, pitching for a Nebraska squad that reached the 2002 Women's College World Series.

From 2001-04, Keaton compiled a 98-38 record. Among her many school records: 149 career games pitched, 945 career strikeouts and 44 career shutouts.

Keaton is part of the 2018 Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame class, a group that includes names like Tom Osborne, Bob Devaney, Mike Rozier, Darin Erstad, Sarah Pavan and Tom Schlesinger.

Keaton has been inducted into the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame (2011), the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (2014) and the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame (2015). She also had her No. 42 jersey retired in 2010.

For the former four-time all-Big 12 honoree, entering the Nebraska Athletic Hall of Fame is just as special.

"I think why this one definitely has a special place is because I am amongst the entire university and not just student-athletes, but coaches as well, and that's huge," Keaton said. "When I think about Nebraska athletics in general, over the years and in all the different sports and how successful that university is, and now to be considered one of the best, I don't have the words for it."

Keaton, who starred at Papillion-La Vista High School, said she found about her induction through a letter in the mail from Nebraska. 

"I was just shocked," she said. "I was speechless. I immediately called my parents."

Keaton recalls getting the call at age 12 to attend a softball camp at Nebraska. Despite interest from other high-level programs, Keaton said she always knew that Nebraska was the place she wanted to be.

"People have asked me before, would I do it over again?" said Keaton, who is a project manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Omaha. "I always say, 'A thousand percent, I would do it all again.' That was just a great experience I had there with Rhonda (Revelle) and Lori (Sippel) as my coaches, and the fans were amazing.

"The wins, the losses, everything. I would do it again in a heartbeat."

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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