FAIRBURY - The news had been out there for a little while.

Fairbury seniors and softball standouts Raven DeFrain and Jaelle Johnson announced their college destinations in late October.

They both made those decisions official on Wednesday at a joint signing ceremony at Fairbury Jr./Sr. High School.

DeFrain is headed for Northwest Missouri State, while Johnson will go to Omaha to play for the Mavericks.

DeFrain first announced her commitment on Oct. 25. Johnson followed just five days later. They were both honored as Lincoln Journal Star first-team all-Class C selections.

DeFrain picked the Bearcats over an offer from St. Louis Community College.

"It was a nice college," she said, "but I'd rather go to a four-year (university), and something that's a little closer (to home)."

DeFrain, who plans to double major in biology and psychology, finished the 2019 season with 63 RBIs, which was one shy of tying a Class C single-season record. She also led the Jeffs with a .500 batting average, 55 hits and nine home runs.

DeFrain finished the state tournament with a team-high nine RBIs, a team-high nine hits and three home runs.

Johnson, meanwhile, finished the week at state with eight total hits, including two home runs, seven runs scored, five RBIs and a double.


Johnson was second on the team in batting average (.500), hits (48), RBIs (53), home runs (8) and led the team with 11 doubles.

She chose UNO after also receiving interest from Northwest Missouri State and Pittsburg State (KS).

"I love the coaches and I love the campus," Johnson said about Omaha. "I love where it is. I love how it's close to home."

Johnson and DeFrain were both critical in the Jeffs' win over Guardian Angels Central Catholic in the winner-take-all state softball championship game in Hastings on Oct. 18.

In the top of the seventh inning, Johnson was intentionally walked, and DeFrain brought her home on an RBI single to deep right field. That wound up being the go-ahead run, as the Jeffs (28-5) outlasted the Bluejays, 6-5 for the programs' first ever state title.

Fairbury head softball coach Taylor Biehl, who just wrapped up her 16th season with the Jeffs, is assisted in coaching by her husband, Tony.

They said it's not every day that Fairbury sends talent to the Division I and II college level.

Even more extraordinary when multiple athletes sign to that level in the same year.

"It's huge," Taylor said. "They both put a lot of time into the game over the years, and it definitely has paid off for them. Their effort and their work ethic and love for the game is what helped us get the championship."

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.