Worth County softball’s star pitcher Lauren Potts, front row, center, signed a scholarship to play for Valdosta State on Thursday afternoon at the school as her entire softball team, along with first-year head coach Suzanne Kluball, front row, left, and assistant coach Will Smith, front row, right, look on.
SYLVESTER — They call her Tea Pot.
That started when Lauren Potts was just 8. She was at her first hitting clinic, and the name stuck. It’s still there today.
She will take it to Valdosta State, where Potts plans to major in early childhood education and also plans on knocking the ball out of the park.
Potts, an all-state softball player at Worth County, signed a letter-of-intent Thursday to accept a college scholarship to take her bat, glove and heart down the road to play for the Lady Blazers.
“They call her Tea Pot. I call her Lauren,’’ said Worth County AD Russ Beard, who coached softball until this past season. “You could call her versatile, and you could sure call her unselfish.’’
Potts has all the numbers that made several colleges offer her a scholarship, but they are also getting a tough-nose player who could play any position in the infield, and stepped up this season at Worth to help the Lady Rams on the mound.
“She’s so unselfish,’’ Worth coach Suzanne Kluball said. “We had no one else to pitch, and she pitched and won every region game. She carried our team when there was no one else to carry it.’’
Potts won’t have to pitch at Valdosta.
“They said she will play either first base or second base,’’ said Potts’ father, Mitch, who taught her the game. “They want her bat.’’
Potts hit .370 and belted nine home runs while driving in 38 for the Lady Rams, who were once again a powerhouse. Potts is part of a Worth foursome that includes Kimmy Lee and the Ellis twins, Haley and Heather. Those four kids helped turn Worth into a state power.
They won 94 games in their four years on the Worth diamond.
“I’ll remember a lot,’’ Potts said of her time with the Lady Rams. “I’ll remember the Elite 8. I’ll remember the region titles. I’ll remember ...”
Then she stopped and started again.
“It’s sad,’’ she said. “It’s sad that it’s over.’’
But what a ride, one that started when the foursome played for the Orange Crush travel team when they were 10 years old.
“My Orange Crush coach was the best coach I’ve ever had,’’ Potts said. “My dad was my coach.’’
Potts’ mother, Bonnie, played softball when she was younger and Mitch was there every step of the way to help his daughter learn the game. By the time Laura was 10, the family started thinking she might be good enough to earn a scholarship to college.
Mercer, Georgia Southwestern and others were interested, but Potts played for a traveling team from Valdosta for the last two summers and four kids from that team are going to Valdosta State. The connection was too good to be true. Valdosta also loses the entire infield to graduation this year, so Potts will have a chance to play right away.
“They have a great program,’’ she said. “I like the coaching staff, and I know a lot of girls there.’’