GODFREY - When Abby Palen joined the Lewis and Clark Community College softball team for the 2018 season, she was thrilled that she became part of a family connection.
She became the third member in her family to play for the Godfrey school. Her cousin, Amanda Palen, was a member of the Trailblazers’ program in 2016 and her aunt, Lisa Stendeback, played two years in the early 1990s.
“It’s really cool, the fact that they both went there,” said Abby, a 2017 Roxana graduate. “Actually, it helped me decide (to play for Lewis and Clark) because they both went there, had a really great experience and they did really well there.”
Abby Palen is playing in her second and final season at L&C this spring. Amanda Palen, who now attends SIUE, joined the program after playing one season at Southwestern Illinois College. Stendeback played in 1992-93 before transferring to SIUE.
“I think it’s great that my whole family can be part of something like that,” said Amanda, a 2014 Alton High graduate.
Another family member, Steve Palen, got to see all three of them play at L&C. Abby is his daughter, Amanda is his niece and Stendeback is his sister. All three played in the infield.
“They’re all obviously good athletes and have chosen to stick around and play locally,” Steve Palen said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”
Abby Palen said having three family members playing in the same softball program is rare.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that my family members were fortunate enough to play softball at the collegiate level,” she said. “That doesn’t happen a lot.”
Ronda Roberts, who is in her 21st season as Lewis and Clark softball coach, said she had a couple of sister tandems from Bunker Hill during her career.
“I had some families from the past with other kids, but the Palens are a lot of fun,” she said.
Out of the three family members who played at L&C, Amanda and Abby Palen were the only ones who played for Roberts, who took over the program in 1998.
“Amanda did fantastic for us,” the L&C coach said. “She was a just great kid. Abby is something else. She’s always one of those kids who is always happy and smiling all of the time.”
Abby Palen had considered Millikin University and Missouri Baptist before she decided to play for L&C during her senior year at Roxana.
“Ronda got a hold of me early and I got to visit the campus early and I just kind of decided that almost right off the bat,” she said. “I didn’t know that my aunt Lisa went to Lewis and Clark until I signed there. I thought she went to SIUE all four years.”
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