A pair of Sylacauga High School seniors will see their softball careers continue on the collegiate level after both signed letters-of-intent during a ceremony at Central Park on Monday afternoon.
Neeley-Scott Wilkinson, a utility player for the Lady Aggies who was primarily stationed at first base, signed with Southern Union, while centerfielder Aurielle Turner chose Warner University (Lake Wales, Florida).
Wilkinson had offers from Talladega College and Huntingdon College but she said Southern Union was a better fit for her.
“The way it felt around the team, I felt like I was at home,” Wilkinson said. “The girls are just so nice.”
Turner said she had committed earlier to Edward Waters College (Jacksonville, Florida), but an 11th-hour proposal by Warner University resulted in her committing to the Royals.
“The same day I committed to (Edmund Waters), (Warner University) called me with a better offer,” she said. “They had my major and everything, so that was like that jackpot for me. That’s why I chose Warner University.”
Lady Aggies softball coach Chad Wilkinson said both schools are getting quality student-athletes in Turner and Wilkinson.
“Aurielle and Neeley-Scott have been with our program the last six years,” he said. “They provide a lot of leadership and a lot of work ethic to the players who are coming up. They’re role models as athletes playing at a higher level. I relied on those two, as well as some other girls, to be leaders of our team this past season. They’ve done a tremendous job with it.”
The duo’s final season in Sylacauga ended abruptly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Lady Aggies finished 6-6.
“It hurt a lot because we all thought we had a good chance to make it to state,” Turner said. “We got out there and worked in the offseason as well. I play basketball, so I was conditioned and stuff. It just hurts because I wish I could play with that team one more time because I know we had a good chance of going all the way.”
While Wilkinson said it was disappointing she didn’t get to finish out her senior season, it stung twice as much because she was being coached by her father. She added her father has been actively involved in her softball journey since she began playing the sport when she was 5 years old.
“It was really fun for him to be able to coach me this year because it was also my senior year and it was his first year as head softball coach,” she said. “We were both just so excited to be able to be closer, and then it just got taken away from us.”
Wilkinson said versatility is something she learned early in the sport.
“As a kid, I was always told, ‘You’re going to learn how to play this position even if you never play it,’” she said. “That’s just stuck with me through everything because what if someone gets hurt? On the depth chart, you have at least three people that can play that position, so if they’re all three hurt, who’s going to step in and do that? I’m glad I can be the person to be able to do that.”
Wilkinson said she plans to get her associate degree at Southern Union and transfer to complete her major. Her goal is to work in the special education career field, but she wants to get as much softball in as she can while on that path.
“I’m going to work hard these next two years and see if any bigger schools will offer me,” she said.
Turner said she plans to major in biology and pursue a career in nursing.