When Dougherty High School’s ace pitcher Jana Lee briefly took off her mask to do an interview with local media Thursday, she was grinning ear-to-ear.

The softball standout, who officially ended her high school career with 536 strikeouts and an earned run average of 1.16, had just signed a letter to accept a full-ride scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi.

Quoting French Poet Anatole France, Lee thanked those who believed in her since she was a little girl, saying that, because of them and her God-given abilities, “people have doubted whether a black girl from Albany, Georgia could be a great pitcher or (whether) that girl could receive a 100 percent scholarship to a D-I school. Well, Trojan Nation, here we are today.”

Lee, who is ranked as one of the best softball pitchers in the nation, first helped turn a struggling program around at Albany Middle School before helping make Dougherty’s team competitive, principal Eddie Johnson said.

“I had the privilege of having Jana on our team at Albany Middle when I was principal there and she helped resurrect our softball program,” Johnson said at Thursday’s signing event. “But even above her athleticism, Jana just has great character and is, academically, an amazing student.”

Lee currently is carrying a 3.6 GPA heading into the holiday period.

As a Trojan, Lee pitched more than 238 innings with 536 strikeouts and 31 wins. Lee was also a powerhouse with a bat, ending her varsity career with a .782 batting average, 85 runs-batted-in and 21 homeruns.

Lee is the second Trojan to sign a D-I softball scholarship in as many years. Last year, Denver Bryant signed with Auburn University.

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