History was made at Dawson County High School last Wednesday when Lady Tigers senior pitcher, Jenna Abbott, signed for a softball scholarship with the Auburn University Tigers.
Abbott is the schools first fast pitch softball player to attend a SEC college on a softball scholarship.
She said the reality of her future hadnt hit her, until now. It feels so real, now. I am really excited and ready to go and start my new life, Abbott said.
Jimmy Pruett, head coach of the DCHS Lady Tigers softball team said he is proud of Abbotts accomplishments.
We have had a lot of athletes play in college but never at this level. This is the highest level of collegiate ball there is, and you have to be really good to do what she has accomplished, he said.
Pruett has coached Abbott since she entered the high school fast pitch softball arena. She came here with the skills it was evident. But she just honed those skills, and every year she got a little bit better and stronger and smarter and everything has just come together for her.
Abbott has played softball since she was seven years old. She began playing travel ball with her coach Greg Giles, when she was seven. Giles and Abbott joined a national travel team, the Atlanta Vipers Fast Pitch Softball Club, three years ago. Greg Giles, coach of the Vipers said Abbott and her family made huge sacrifices to enable her to evolve as a player and to be recognized at a very young age. Giles said he received the first phone call from a college coach inquiring about Abbott when she was only 14 years old. He added it was only the beginning of many colleges interest. Because of her skill level, she started getting noticed very, very early, said Giles. Many coaches have watched her and extended offers. Giles said that Abbott had to go through a decision process and she chose a very good school. Its a tough place to play, he said, but Jenna is tough enough and has the heart and drive to do it. Bill Hudson, Abbotts pitching coach and Auburn alumni said her success means everything to him. I have been with her since she was about 14, Hudson said proudly, and shes really become a star, hasnt she? Auburn University softball head coach, Tina Deese, said Abbott is a good fit for the team. First and foremost she will add to the pitching staff, said Deese. Abbott is a left-handed pitcher, throwing balls at speeds up to 65 mph. She has good poise, a heavy stick and a lot of power on the left side. Put that with her work ethic and study habits, and it makes her a really nice package. Deese said the coaching staff of Auburn has observed Abbott on multiple occasions. As many times as the NCAA will allow us to, she added. She said it is evident that Abbott is coming from a good, dedicated family and a supportive community. It takes a family and community with values and ethics to raise one like her and it really shows. Its really neat that we can award kids like this for the sacrifices they have made. Dawson County should be proud. Abbott made a verbal commitment to Auburn exactly one year from when she signed her national letter of intent. Her parents said her decision was easier after visiting the universitys campus. We love the community, said Abbotts mother, Margaret. It is very similar to Dawson Countys feel and that is what drew her to it. Margaret said the solid coaching staff at Auburn and the great academic opportunities Abbott will have contributed to the decision. This is such a rare opportunity to be able to get a top-notch education and play the sport she loves, she added. Abbotts father, Jeff agrees. Its fantastic, he said. She has worked hard, put in all of these extra hours and we are truly blessed that she has this opportunity to continue her career. Abbott will join Auburn University and its fast pitch softball team in fall of 2013, where she plans to major in health care administration.
When Abbott was asked if she ever imagined she would attend college on a softball scholarship, she exclaimed, No . . . yes . . . but, not to a school like Auburn!