Hopkins signs with Motlow State
Despite suffering a severe knee injury this past summer, Cornersville High School senior Makenzie Hopkins will get a chance to display her talents at the collegiate level after signing a letter of intent to play softball at Motlow State Community College on Tuesday morning in CHS' basketball gymnasium.
A two-sport standout at Cornersville, Hopkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee this past June while playing in a summer camp with the Lady Bulldogs' basketball team.
Motlow State coach Tori Raby-Gentry, however, was happy to offer Hopkins a scholarship after hearing about her past exploits on the softball diamond.
"She's athletic and has a strong drive and work ethic. Since I'm a new coach here, I haven't seen her play in person, but all my sources have said good things about her and I feel like we're getting a steal. She wouldn't be available had she not hurt her knee," said Raby-Gentry. "She'll compete for the shortstop position and potentially could see time in the outfield as well. We're young and have a lot of open positions."
Hopkins also had a scholarship offer from Wallace State Community College and was being recruited by Martin Methodist College in basketball prior to injuring her knee.
"I liked the environment at Motlow and I liked their coach. I was shocked that schools were still looking at me after I hurt my knee because I thought everything was gone," said Hopkins. "I like both sports about the same, but I think I'm better at softball because it comes more naturally. It's also easier on my knee."
Having started at shortstop each of her first three years at CHS, Hopkins has helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to two third place finishes in the Class A State tournament and has earned All-District 11-A honors twice while also being named to the Middle Tennessee Softball Coaches Association All-Midstate team last season.
As a freshman, Hopkins notched a respectable .263 batting average while Cornersville captured both the District regular season and tournament championships along with the Region 6-A title en route to finishing third in the State tourney for the second consecutive year.
Hopkins then posted an impressive .336 batting average her sophomore year and helped guide the Lady Bulldogs to their third straight regular season District championship.
Although she broke her left wrist during the basketball playoffs, which forced her to miss the first two weeks of the softball season, Hopkins turned in a strong junior campaign.
After recording a .346 batting average during the regular season, Hopkins caught fire at the plate in the playoffs and hit a blistering .473 in the postseason, while Cornersville won the District tournament title and finished third in the State tourney for the third time in four years.
"When Makenzie was injured last year, we kind of struggled defensively. She solidified us defensively because everyone could go back to their natural positions," said former CHS softball coach Spencer Mitchell, who retired at the end of the last season. "She's athletic and has the right attitude when it's game time. Once the game starts, it's game on. She's versatile so she'll help Motlow because she can play a lot of different positions."
Hopkins has also been a key figure in the Lady Bulldogs' recent success on the basketball court and is starting at point guard for the fourth straight season after being an All-District selection each of her first three years at CHS.
During her career at Cornersville, the Lady Bulldogs have won three straight regular season District titles, claimed the last two District tournament championships, and captured the 2009 Region crown en route to reaching the State tournament for the first time in the program's history.
"She's always been a winner. Makenzie is really competitive and she's there to win," said CHS coach Micah Landers. "She's brought that attitude to our team the last four years and has been a big part of our success. I actually congratulated Motlow's coach today when Makenzie signed with them. She's a hard worker and a good player to coach."
With her high school career winding down, Hopkins is hoping to make strong postseason runs in both sports in her final year at Cornersville.
"I hope we can play in another Sub State game in basketball and make it back to the State tournament in softball because I think we have enough talent to do it," said Hopkins.
Makenzie also excels in the classroom and currently holds a 3.6 GPA. Along with being a member of Cornersville's Beta Club, Hopkins will graduate from CHS with honors in May.