Ex-ACCS pitcher ends East Central career that started with a phone call
By Reina Kempt
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — As a senior on Adams County Christian’s softball team in 2011, Mary Sanders said she desperately wanted to play softball on the next level.
With a little determination and practice, she tried out for several teams across Mississippi before receiving the phone call that would change her life.
Sanders said her phone went off in class one day as an unknown number appeared on the screen. She didn’t know what to do to not disrupt class, so she tried to save face by asking her teacher to answer the mysterious call.
Her teacher agreed and told Sanders that the call was from a softball coach at East Central Community College in Decatur. Filled with excitement, Sanders asked to be excused from class as she rushed outside of the room to hear the voice of former head coach Scott Hill.
“It was amazing. I was just sitting in class, and when my teacher said it was a college coach on the phone, I ran out of the room,” Sanders said. “I was so excited.”
Sanders said she thought she was prepared for the next level, with receiving All-District three times, All-Metro once and best defensive player twice at ACCS, but upon her arrival to ECCC, she realized she was sadly mistaken.
“In high school some are better than others, but in college, everybody is good,” she said.
Transitioning to college was a bit of a culture shock for Sanders.
“We lifted weights all of the time, and we ran a lot more than in high school,” she said. “I wasn’t used to that.”
But Sanders didn’t get down on herself. Sanders said she worked even harder and trained heavily with a pitching coach to strength her skills.
This past season, first-year head coach Kristin Chaney fell in love with Sanders’ ability to effectively use the changeup pitch and it showed throughout the season.
“Coach thought my changeup was amazing, so she wanted to use it more,” she said. “She said it kept our opponents unbalanced.”
Just finishing up her sophomore year as the second-game pitcher, Sanders earned the most outstanding pitcher award.
In the 2013 season, Sanders pitched a total of 101.1 innings, had 31 strikeouts and no errors.
She helped lead the team to a record of 31-17 before losing to Jones County Junior College 10-4 at the Region 23 Tournament, a double-elimination event, on May 10. They suffered a 6-1 loss to LSU-Eunice just the day before.
Now that the season is over for Sanders and the Lady Diamond Warriors, so is Sanders’ community college career.
She graduated from ECCC with an associate’s degree in arts, and she said she hopes to continue her education at Mississippi State, as just a student.
“I’m going to State in the fall but not to play ball,” Sanders said. “Well, there’s a chance I might play (eventually) but I’m not sure.”
Sanders will pursue a degree at MSU in the fall.