By Chris McCarthy/Editor
A 10-year old dream came true for Alaina Hampton on Dec. 1 when the Coosa Christian senior signed a softball scholarship with the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
“I’ve been playing softball since I was in fourth grade, and I always wanted to play in college,” she said. “Growing up, you’re going to have doubts if you can do it or not, and once you finally get that [scholarship] offer, it’s an incredible feeling.”
In 36 games this past season, Hampton hit .421 while producing 49 runs, 41 RBI, 40 hits, 10 home runs, 10 doubles, three triples and 23 steals while striking out only eight times. She had an on-base percentage of .513 and a slugging percentage of .905. She was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A All-State first team and participated in the AHSAA North-South All-Star softball game in July in Montgomery. Hampton also played travel ball for the past several years with the Birmingham Mustangs.
“It’s been a lot of summers with no vacations, “ she said. “If you want to reach the college level, you have to play travel ball and give all that up.”
Although the 2016 Lady Conquerors went 20-14 and won the area regular season title, Coosa was not eligible for the 2016 postseason because the program did not compete in 2015. The Lady Conquerors were ranked as high as fifth in the ASWA Class 1A state softball poll during the season.
“Coming to Coosa (Hampton transferred in from Glencoe High School prior to the 2015-16 school year) was the best moved I’ve ever made,” said Hampton. “Spiritually and everything else.”
In her sophomore season with Glencoe in 2015, Hampton helped the Lady Yellow Jackets win the Class 3A, Area 11 Tournament title and finish third in the regional tournament. She batted .561 with 69 hits, 37 RBI and 52 runs. She also played basketball and ran track at GHS.
Hampton noted that Coosa being ineligible for the 2016 postseason is a motivating factor for the 2017 Lady Conquerors.
“We were basically playing for nothing last season,” she said. “This year, we’ll definitely be doing something. We just want to make it as far as possible, especially because Coosa softball hasn’t ever gone too far (in the state playoffs).
Hampton will join a Lady Charger squad that is coming off a 40-17 season and made it to the finals of the NCAA Division II South 1 Regional Tournament. She plans on studying civil engineering at UAH.
“Alaina is an excellent ball player and great kid both on and off the field,” said Coosa head softball coach Amy Shaw. “You couldn’t ask more out of her. We’re very excited today for Alaina and proud of her accomplishments. Academics came first for her in the recruiting process, and UAH met her standards.
“It’s neat to see such a level-headed kid who uses softball to set up her education. She’s set up for success, for sure. Today sets a phenomenal tone for the upcoming season, and I’m really excited to see what this group can do.”
Just like Hampton, Shaw was recruited by longtime UAB head softball coach Les Stuedeman.
“It’s been a long-term relationship with the program, so I know that Alaina’s going to step over and be under excellent coaching. With her work ethic, I can see Alaina stepping into a contributing role in her first year (at UAH).”