Whaley signs with MTSU

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Austyn Whaley, center is flanked by her parents Kim and Jamie Gentry as she signs her Letter of Intent to attend MTSU on a softball scholarship. Back row from left, Mark Thurman (TN Xplosion Coach), Tommy Higdon (Grandfather), Kaye Higdon (Aunt), Betty Higdon (Grandmother), Holly Cook and Heather Denton (MCHS Coaches), and Michael Connell (Team Worth Coach). Photo by Anthony S. Puca

From an early age, MCHS senior standout Austyn Whaley was a head turner on the softball diamond, displaying tremendous athletic ability and a game time savvy that she eventually used to become a nationally recognized player.

Recently, Whaley was rewarded for her outstanding work ethic and prowess on the field, signing a Letter of Intent to play at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) next season.

"I'm very excited to be a part of the Blue Raider family," said Whaley. "I am so glad coach Breeden and his staff has given me this opportunity to continue playing softball at the collegiate level."

Highly sought

Many Tennessee schools, plus Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois climbed on the recruiting bandwagon before Whaley decided to stay close to home with the Division I Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro.

"My goal has always been to play D-I softball and I never gave up in trying to find a scholarship," said Whaley. "To all you young players, never give up and always follow your dreams."

Lots of honors

Whaley has been an integral cog for the Tigerettes since her freshman season where she started at second base.

As a sophomore, Whaley played shortstop and as junior, she moved over to the hot corner at third base where she will remain as a senior and projected for the Blue Raiders next year.

Whaley has been a member of the All-District Team every season at MCHS and last season, Whaley was voted the District 12-AA Offensive Player of the Year and earned a first team berth on the Middle Tennessee Softball Coaches Association squad.

"I have been blessed in my seven years here, we have had some special athletes and Austyn definitely has been one of the most special that I have had," said MCHS head coach Holly Cook. "Not only does she have the physical skills, she has the mental game also."

Last season, Whaley sported an awesome .501 batting average, while driving in 36 runs and setting a school record with 10 homeruns.

Whaley has a career .445 batting average, including 16 homeruns, and in the classroom, Whaley is just as impressive with 3.5 G.P.A.

Austyn Whaley and her younger brother Blake pose at the signing at MCHS. Photo submitted

Fiery competitor

"Austyn is such a competitor, she reminds me of myself, she wants to win every game, she loves to compete, hates to lose and bottom line, she just loves the game of softball," said Cook.

Whaley will be part of a new era at MTSU, who recently hired former Coffee County and Riverdale head coach Jeff Breeden to lead the Blue Raiders.

Breeden, an eight-time Coach of the Year selection by the Daily News Journal, spent the last nine seasons at Riverdale, where he guided the Lady Warriors to the 2009 state title and an incredible 423-67-3 record, capturing district titles every year, three region titles and four state tournament appearances.

Bright future

"Coach Breeden has already made a big impact on me," said Whaley. "I know he will bring great intensity to the MTSU softball team and we are all looking forward to getting to the top of the Sun Belt Conference standings."

Breeden had an all-time 764-188-3 record in his 22-year high school coaching career, placing him 14th among active coaches and 16th all-time in the National Federation of High School Sports record book.

"I think coach Breeden is an amazing coach," said Cook. "He is very energetic in what he does, very knowledgeable of the game and I think that will translate to great success at MTSU."

In Whaley's three seasons at MCHS, the Tigerettes have compiled a 79-36 record with two District 12-AA titles, two region tournament berths and a sectional berth in 2010.

"I just want to play my very best this last year at MCHS," said Whaley. "I am looking forward to another year at third base, swinging a hot bat and do the best I can in my last year for coach Cook and coach Denton."