Speedy Pig to Snead State
Russellville's Watkins signs juco softball scholarship
Franklin County Times
Tiffany Watkins' path to a softball scholarship started in an unlikely place – the Speedy Pig restaurant in Russellville.
Watkins, who played second base for Russellville High School and also lettered in volleyball, decided to attend Northwest-Shoals in Muscle Shoals after graduating last May, but she signed a scholarship to Snead State in Boaz last Friday.
"Her scholarship happened in a roundabout way because I had watched her play high school and summer ball, but I had never talked to her about playing college," said Freddie Kirby, director of girls' sports for Southeastern Athletics, Inc. "Glenn and I were sitting at the Speedy Pig, and Tiffany was there talking to (Lindsey and Derryl) Gardner. She made a statement about wanting to play college ball, and I asked her how badly she wanted to play."
Watkins said she has always wanted to play college softball.
"It was a dream of mine to play softball in college," she said.
After Kirby arranged a tryout at Jeff Davis in Brewton – nearly five hours from home – Watkins was offered a scholarship in late November, but she and her family decided to look for a closer school.
Kirby called Snead State coach Kristy Robinson, who asked Watkins to visit campus and undergo a tryout that included offensive and defensive drills and timed running.
"She had a great tryout and Coach Robinson offered her a scholarship after she finished trying out," Kirby said.
Watkins liked the campus and the coaching staff, and said she gained a lot of confidence this summer from playing with the North Alabama Elite, a Phil Campbell travel team that included her former teammate Kayla Sykes, a shortstop at Northwest-Shoals, and Phil Campbell pitcher Melissa Russell, who signed with Itawamba (Miss).
"I liked everything about the school, and I thought it was really nice there," Watkins said.
The Elite captured the sub-state and state championships, and Watkins improved her power hitting – she hit her first home run – and gained experience at first base, a position she is likely to play at Snead State, along with her natural position at second.
"It was a line drive over the left field fence – I wasn't sure it was going over, but my dad took off running because he knew it was a home run," said Watkins, who bats and throws right-handed and has been playing softball for 10 years. "I ended up hitting two or three more home runs, and I think my hitting got better. And I was getting some experience playing different positions."
Kirby credited the scholarship offer to Watkins' work ethic.
"Tiffany has a true glove and has improved her game two complete levels in the past two years," Kirby said. "She got a college scholarship by working hard, and it paid off for her."
Watkins is the daughter of Trey and Gayla Watkins of Russellville. She is scheduled to begin classes Jan. 4 and practice will start Jan. 10.