By Chris McCarthy/Publisher/Editor
“I just play and don’t worry about that stuff.”
Such was Bethany Chamblee’s response to a question concerning her game-high strikeout total as a member of the Sardis High varsity softball team.
Bethany’s team-first mentality was among the many things that impressed the Gadsden State softball coaching staff.
Suffice to say, it was not a coincidence that the Lady Lions’ senior pitcher/third baseman signed a scholarship with the Lady Cardinals on Jan. 15.
Bethany has been the Lady Lions’ ace on the pitching mound since her sophomore year.
In 270 innings last season, Bethany had 109 strikeouts with an earned run average of 3.21. She batted .270 with a .290 on-base percentage and 18 RBIs as Sardis qualified for the Class 3A regional tournament.
As a sophomore in 2011, she fanned 110 batters and posted a 2.70 ERA in 267 innings. She finished with a record of 27-18 and helped the Lady Lions reach the Class 3A state tournament.
Bethany viewed her scholarship a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to play college softball, and I love everything about Gadsden State. I like to pitch, but it really doesn’t matter to me what position I play. I’m going to be working really hard trying to get better so I can be ready to play as soon at I get to [Gadsden State].”
Sardis head softball coach Mary Beth Gilliland, who played softball at Southside High and then for Jacksonville State, said that Bethany could have gone somewhere else on an academic scholarship but wanted to continue her softball career for at least two more years.
“Bethany’s very smart and does a real good job of staying focused on the mound. She’s a very fast learner, and as hard as she works, I think she’ll adjust to the college game pretty quickly. Bethany’s not necessarily the type to tell people what to do, but she’s a great leader by example. [GSCC head softball coach] Jeanne Kerr is a really good woman and will be great for Bethany to be around and learn from.”
Bethany, who scored a 30 on her ACT exam and is her class salutatorian and will study either pre-med or pharmacy at Gadsden State.
Kerr pointed out that her annual recruiting checklist consists of high character, superior academics and above-average athletic ability, in that order.
“Bethany is a smart girl with outstanding character, but she’s also a good pitcher, so she’s a perfect fit for us. We try to get one quality pitcher every year, and Bethany is that girl [this year]. We have 17 freshmen right now and have a lot [of 2012 players] coming back, but that really doesn’t matter with Bethany, because I definitely think she’ll be ready to contribute right away.”