New Darton softball signees, from left, Hartley Busby, Jamie Daniels, Jordan Allen, Kendall Holland, Tiffany Bishop, Nicole McInerney, Lexie Pigott and Katelynn Johnson, gathered to make it official Wednesday. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Jordan Allen dreamt of playing college softball from the moment she slipped on a mitt more than a decade ago.
On Tuesday, those dreams started to come true for the senior from Apalachee High School, who was one of eight in the Darton State College softball team’s 2013-14 signing class.
“This has always been my dream. It’s what I’ve worked for since I started playing softball when I was 4,” Allen said. “Getting a scholarship was my dream, and now I get to play with everybody who has that same dream.”
Allen, a third baseman and reigning GHSA Region 8-AAAAA Player of the Year, was joined Tuesday by shortstop and pitcher Katelynn Johnson (DeSoto High School, Fla.), second baseman and pitcher Tiffany Bishop (Lowndes High School), outfielder Kendall Holland (Lowndes High School), pitcher Jamie Daniels (Pike County High School), outfielder Nicole McInerney (Ariton High School, Ala.), shortstop Lexie Pigott (Pike Liberal Arts Academy, Ala.) and catcher Hartley Busby (Shaw High School).
“We will lose a lot of good ball players from this year’s team, and I feel like this recruiting class will help fill in those areas,” Darton coach David Dews said. “I think we have a real diverse group. I think it’s a real athletic group with real versatile-type athletes.”
The Lady Cavs are coming off a season in which they won a school record 30 straight games and finished 45-7 overall, but they weren’t able to parlay that into postseason success and lost in the Region XVII Tournament.
Dews said his 2013 signing class has what it takes to continue a winning tradition at Darton.
“We have established ourselves with the classes before them, and the teams we have had before set the bar really high,” Dews said. “They understand the expectations coming to play for a high-caliber program like Darton. They are ready to go, and I think they are really looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead of us.”
McInerney said Darton’s winning culture was something that attracted her to the junior college.
“It’s exciting, but I know we are going to have pressure to win,” said McInerney, who hit .589 her senior year with 67 runs and 20 RBI and was 58-for-59 on stolen base attempts. “I’ve always loved winning. I hate to lose, so this is a good way to keep me going.”
The class has a little bit of everything, including three pitchers with ERAs under 1.65, four All-State selections and two hitters who had batting averages over .500.
But nobody excited Dews more than Daniels, who was one of the top pitchers in the state last season.
Daniels was named the GHSA Class AA Player of the Year after a senior season where she had a .96 ERA and a .372 batting average. She was also selected as her team MVP, All-Region and All-State for the second year in a row.
“Jamie Daniels moves the ball around really, really well,” Dews said. “She has a little bit different style from some of the other kids we have. She has great movement, kind of like (future Hall of Famer Greg) Maddox. We have a really good defense behind her, so she should be highly effective for us.”