Photo: 2020 Ashville High Schol graduate Lexi Copeland signs a softball scholarship with Judson College on June 15. Pictured, sitting, from left: dad Chadd, Lexi, mom Sonya. Standing, from left: AHS softball coach Kristen Seals, Judson softball coach Tom Hannah. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, Editorial Assistant
Recent Ashville High School graduate Lexi Copeland signed a softball scholarship with Judson College in Marion on June 15 at the AHS library.
Copeland, who has played competitive softball since she was 9 years old and has played on Ashville’s varsity team for the last three years, said it was “a dream come true” to have the opportunity to play softball at the next level.
“Lexi brings a leadership quality to the infield that’s going to be hard to replace,” said AHS head softball coach Kristen Seals. “She also brings a fun to the field. She’s not all business, but she plays that fine line of being business and a fun kid to coach.”
Copeland has always played at either first or third base in the field, rounding out her high school career at first base. She will continue to play at first for the Lady Eagles.
“Lexi did a very good job at first,” Seals said. “She digs throws that I never thought she would dig out of the ground.”
Seals expressed confidence that Copeland would contribute offensively to the Judson lineup. With a varsity career batting average of .373, Copeland has hit four home runs in the course of her high school career. Her first home run for the Lady Bulldogs was a grand slam.
“Lexi’s bat has come a long, long way,” Seals said. “She was one of our best hitters. She was the offensive MVP this year, so I know that she’ll contribute in some way at Judson.”
Copeland pointed out that, both Seals and assistant coach Shea Monroe helped her improve as a player and as a person by pushing her to her limits and refusing to let her give up.
“Coach Seals has coached me for four years, and she has pushed me to every limit (so) that I cannot hold any more,” Copeland said. “She never let me give up on myself. And coach Monroe, anytime that I was sad and upset, he always pushed me to my limits … he always picked me up when I was down.”
Losing the majority of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus shutdown was hard on the whole team, Seals said, but especially affected the seniors.
“I don’t know exactly how they dealt with it, but I can speak for myself by saying that they were absolutely heartbroken, because I was heartbroken for them,” she said. “I can only imagine being in their shoes, because my senior year was probably my best year, so I can only imagine how that felt for them.”
Copeland said that she and her fellow seniors took comfort in each other, approaching their abbreviated season the way they approached every other season – together as a team.
“We’ve always worked together, no matter what,” she said, noting that many of the recent graduates have played together since they were children.
Copeland believes that the team will continue to stay in touch, despite attending different schools and pursuing different futures.
“Even though we’re separate, we’ll still be there for each other,” she said.
Copeland, who plans to pursue a business degree at Judson with a minor in accounting, said she decided on her major when she visited the Judson campus and was introduced to the school’s business program.
“I’ve always loved dealing with math and stuff like that, so I figured it would fit me more than anything,” she said.
Copeland said that Judson “just felt like home” when she visited, and she is looking forward to both her academic and athletic careers at the school.