Columbia State signs Herron

Friday, March 2, 2012
Forrest senior ace hurler Brooke Herron is flanked by her parents Dennis and Lisa Herron as she signs her Letter of Intent to play softball at Columbia State Community College next year. Also at the signing on Monday at Forrest in the back row from left is Columbia State assistant coach Rick Stevens, Columbia State head coach Johnny Littrell, Forrest head softball coach coach Becky Cheatham, and FHS Principal Danny Morgan. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

On Monday in Chapel Hill, the softball pipeline that runs from Columbia State Community College to Marshall County flowed again as Forrest softball staff ace Brooke Herron became the latest player to sign a Letter of Intent to join head coach Johnny Littrell and the Lady Chargers for the 2012-2013 season.

"That pipeline is a beautiful thing," said Forrest head coach Becky Cheatham. "Hopefully we will have some more, maybe another one this year and in the future as well. That speaks well for our program that they think that much of us. They have a similar philosophy and our players do well there."

Since 2004, Littrell has ventured into Marshall County and offered scholarships to Forrest's Leigh Beasley, Kalah Mathis, Haley Mathis, and Rachel Curtis, Cornersville's Alicia Riner and Amanda Griggs, and Marshall County High School's Brandie Jett and Ki Ki Summers.

"I really didn't expect this," said Herron. "But I am really, really excited to go there and I hope our younger players keep going there because Columbia State's softball is really good."

Asked about the fertile connection to Forrest, Littrell said, "I was just telling Mrs. Cheatham that we really enjoy having the pipeline to Forrest and we always stay in touch with their program. There is no doubt Brooke is following some good athletes and that is what makes athletes better is the competition within, and coach Cheatham does a great job of that, the intensity is always there."

Littrell added, "We are happy to have Brooke, we have been watching her the last four years, we have kept our eye on her, and kept hoping we would get the opportunity to get her to Columbia State."

Herron had an standout junior season in 2010-2011, going undefeated in District 9-A play as she compiled a 20-4-1 record in the circle, while posting a stellar 0.71 earned run average with one no-hitter and eight shutouts, all of which earned her a spot on the Tennessee Sports Writers All-State Team.

"Brooke stepped right in and picked up right where Shelby (Stinnett) had left off," said Cheatham. "She has done everything we have asked her to do and she would not have made it to her senior year if not for persevering, because she has had to play behind some pretty big shoes."

"It was hard knowing everyone was expecting me to do as good as Shelby, but I did the best I could and I had all my teammates backing me up, so it was good," said Herron.

Herron is also a great defender in left field for the Lady Rockets and at the plate, she batted .357 with the lowest strikeout ratio on the squad that sported a 22-7-1 overall record.

"She is a great contact hitter," said Littrell, who will utilize Herron in the outfield when she is not pitching.

"If I am not pitching, I like to play the outfield and hit too, so I am excited about that," said Herron.

Later in the day, after practice, Herron poses with her parents Dennis and Lisa Herron and in the back row from left is FHS assistant coach Ricky Stinnett, head coach Becky Cheatham, and assistant Dick "Chief" Cheatham.

Herron also excels in the classroom, sporting an excellent 3.8 G.P.A. and wants to pursue a career in nursing or in other areas of the medical field.

The 2008 Class-A State Champion Lady Rockets lost 1-0 to Houston County in the first round of the Region 5-A Tournament last year, snapping a five-year string of appearances at the Spring Fling and Herron wants to take care of that unfinished business before embarking to the Maury County college next year.

"I really hope we go back to state this year," said Herron. "I know we have the team to do it."

Cheatham also wants a return trip to the Murfreesboro, saying, "I want us to step up and overachieve this year. I definitely want to do more than last year and Brooke will be a big part of that as one of our leaders."