Springville senior Mallory Nolen signed a softball scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta last week. What makes this so unique is Nolen has yet to play a single inning for the Lady Tigers. She is a transfer from Cleburne County High School where she was part of the varsity team the past four years.
Nolen said she was excited about playing for Springville, a team that has won the previous three Class 5A state championships.
“I’ve actually played travel ball with several Springville players in the past,” she said. “I know they are a great group, and I have been accepted by them right off the bat. I’m looking forward to playing for Coach (Brandon) Easterwood. I think he is a great coach and he pushing the girls to be the best they can be.”
Nolen is an outfielder and prefers to play centerfield over leftfield. She generally bats first in the lineup and is a slap hitter, bunts, walks a lot, just getting on base anyway she can. Last year, she had more than 70 stolen bases.
Nolen, 18, is the daughter of Pierce and Maranda Nolen. She maintains a 4.36 GPA and made a 27 on her ACT. She plans on majoring in mathematics and minoring in finance.
Maranda Nolen said her daughter started playing softball at a young age, stopped playing for a while, and picked it back up at the age of 12.
“From that point on, she blossomed,” Mrs. Nolen said. “She has worked very hard and put a lot of time and effort into getting where she is today. We do think good things are going to come for her. We are definitely blessed and humbled that this all turned out the way it did.”
Pierce Nolen said he remembers the first time he handed Mallory a softball.
“She was grinning from ear to ear,” he said. “As her career established a little bit, I knew this day would eventually come for her. We could tell that she was a little bit more than your average player. We started pushing her and working a little more extra, giving her the tools to excel. I am so proud of her. We have poured our heart and soul into her. She’s given it all back to us.”
Springville head softball coach Brandon Easterwood said he was excited for Nolen.
“I think she will do a great job for us,” he said. “She has great speed, great instinct, and has played a lot of softball. She will start somewhere in the outfield for us, and will be a key hitter at the plate. She will provide us with some good leadership. She understands her role and she is very good at it.”
Reach Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.