Watkins looks forward to playing 2 more years

Friday, May 29, 2015
Marshall County shortstop Ashton Watkins, front row center, signs to attend Motlow College on a softball scholarship. Joining her for the ceremony are, front row left, Marshall County coach Heather Denton, Kristy Watkins, Lee Watkins and Motlow coach Tori Raby-Gentry. Back row from left are, Marshall County coach Danny Hollingsworth, MCHS Athletic Director Kevin McGehee, Koda Watkins, Doug Taylor, Terry Merrell and Lucy Merrell. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

After thoughtful deliberation, Marshall County High School shortstop Ashton Watkins has decided to prolong her softball career by signing with Motlow State College in Lynchburg.

"It was a long, hard decision, but after playing for so long, I felt like it was the smart decision to keep it going for as long as I could, and I'm glad I did," said Watkins.

"Growing up playing ball all my life is something that grows a part of you, and it is hard to give it up, so I want to go out with a bang these last two years."

Natural place

Watkins, a four-starter for the Tigerettes, played second base in her freshman year before settling into her natural position at shortstop as a sophomore.

If Watkins were a Major League Baseball player, she would easily be a perennial gold-glover because she makes all the routine plays and can turn heads with the remarkable plays as well.

"I'm very proud of her and her accomplishments. She has been an asset for Marshall County defensively at shortstop and when she started off at second base," said MCHS coach Heather Denton.

"We are going to miss her so much out there in the field."

Former MVP

Ashton Watkins batted .447 for the Tigerettes, hit two home runs and led the squad with 30 RBI.

Watkins was the Offensive MVP last season in District 12-AA and came back with another big year at the plate for the Tigerettes, batting .386 with 30 RBI, 23 runs scored, 11 doubles, two triples, seven base on balls and 10 stolen bases.

"Offensively, she put us in a lot of games when we were behind, coming up big as a leader for us," said Denton.

Two of Watkins' biggest moments on offense came when she slammed a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning at Giles County, leading to a win that put Marshall County in this season's district tournament title game, and last year when Watkins hit a walk-off, grand slam home run versus Cascade.

"It's been unbelievable my whole career here, coming in as a freshman and having a good season, and now with our team this year that had eight freshman and five seniors," said Watkins.

"Overall we had a great year. We didn't finish how we would have liked, but I have nothing to complain about."

Reunion time

Watkins decision to attend Motlow State was made easier by the fact that she will be re-united with many of the girls she has played with or against at one time or another in travel ball, including current teammate McKenzie Jo Anderson.

"A lot of these kids on the team are excited, too, because they have played with her," said Motlow coach Tori Raby-Gentry.

"It's important to us to recruit locally because it gets us better support and it makes the kids happy because they get to play in front of their fans."

The Lady Bucs finished the 2014-2015 campaign with a (27-19-2) overall record, posting its first winning record since 2011, and Motlow coach Tori Raby-Gentry was very excited about signing Watkins into the fold.

Hard-working leader

"Ashton is a hard worker that shows on the field and is a leader from all I have seen," said Raby-Gentry.

"To be honest, with her versatile athletic ability, we think she can play multiple defensive positions and help us in the lineup."

Asked if Watkins would come in and play right away, Raby-Gentry said, "I don't think she will have any problems and will adjust very quickly."

Watkins sports a 3.8 GPA and wants to become a pharmacist.