By Erik Harris
TRUSSVILLE – Student–athletes from four different sports signed college scholarships on Thursday afternoon at Hewitt-Trussville High School.
Softball seniors Maddie Dorsett and Bailey Murphy put pen to paper alongside cross-country runners Ben Knox and Marlee Mason, Baseball infielder Tyler Tolbert and lacrosse defender LeAnn Guess.
“We’re super excited about today. Six of our students are making a big signature on these pieces of paper to change their lives,” said Hewitt-Trussville Athletics Director Karen Johns.
Johns, who also serves as the head softball coach, got emotional talking about what Dorsett and Murphy have accomplished under her watch.
“They both have grown so much. They put a lot of pressure on themselves to reach this point and I’ve felt like it’s been my job to keep it fun for them and keep them grounded. Their hard work is paying off for them now,” said Johns.
Murphy transferred in from Mortimer Jordan in time to play her junior season with the Huskies. She marked down with South Alabama on Thursday.
Murphy plans to continue pitching at the next level, but wants to improve her ability to locate in this her senior campaign. Murphy is drawn to both the athletics program and the location of the university.
Dorsett, a shortstop for the Huskies, isn’t sure what position she will play at Mississippi State.
“I could play second base or in the outfield (at Mississippi State), said Dorsett. “I’ll play wherever they put me.”
Tolbert, a senior standout on the baseball diamond, signed with UAB. He never wavered from the verbal commitment he made to the Blazers in June.
“I wanted to sign right away,” said Tolbert. “I had no intention to flip. UAB is where I wanted to go. (They have) great coaches and a great program.”
He will join former Hewitt-Trussville infielder Carter Pharis on the Blazers’ roster. Tolbert sees his opportunity to reunite with Pharis as a bonus.
“I’ve played with Carter (Pharis) for three years already. The chemistry will already be there,” said Tolbert. “It’s just good to see people from Hewitt already there playing on that level.”
LeAnn Guess marked the third Huskies’ lacrosse player to sign to the next level. As expected, she inked with UAH.
Guess transitioned from midfield to defense last year, and the move proved to be a perfect fit.
“Last year, I transitioned over to defense, and that’s what all of the coaches liked me for,” said Guess. “Coach Gail from UAH, said that I will play defense starting out and then she’ll transition me to midfield.”
Both cross-country runners, Knox and Mason, decided to sign with UAH before their race at the state championship meet in Oakville over the weekend.
“It just feels amazing to have this (signing ceremony) out of the way. No more nerves, I can just go do my thing,” said Knox.
Mason plans to pursue engineering in college, and that academic outlook factored into her decision making.
“ That Division 1 aspect is really stressful on a student-athlete and because of my major of engineering, I just wanted something where I wasn’t going to be under a lot of stress,” said Mason. “Another factor is I really want to have that away at college feel and UAB is like 20 minutes from my house.”
Erik Harris is the Sports Editor for the Trussville Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @jeharris2 or email him at email@example.com.