By Thomas Sellers Jr.
What started off as an alliterative nickname in the Munford Lady Cougars’ dugout quickly transformed into Alex Stanford’s role on the 2012 team.
“The Assassin” was given the assignments by Head Coach Glenn Goulder to help her team advance out of the Regional Semifinals after trailing. Stanford took the ball and shutdown the Bolton Lady Wildcats allowing her team a chance to comeback and avoid elimination.
A few days later, Stanford was called on to eliminate the Houston Lady Mustangs on the road in Sub-State. Stanford neutralized the Lady Mustang lineup to help Munford reach it’s second straight State Tournament.
“We do enjoy the nickname The Assassin,” Alex’s father Allen said. “We have a lot of fun with that. Not only in this community, but around with family as well.”
Now the nickname is preparing to travel to the college level as Alex signed a national letter of intent Jan. 29 to play softball for Head Coach Keith Gentry at Southwest Tennessee.
Alex was joined in the Munford Library for her signing ceremony by father Allen, mother Kristin Little, aunt Beth Parham, grandparents Charles and Shirley along side her Munford teammates and Coach Goulder.
“She’s a steady influence on the team,” Goulder said. “I love Alex because she says it exactly like it is. She doesn’t sugarcoat things. I think she really picked us up offensively last year. She had a real good year pitching. She was 15-4 last year. She was vital to us last year.
“I would like to see a whole lot more of what I saw last year,” he added. “I think we’re going to be in real, real good shape. She’s in the middle of our lineup. She has a lot of RBIs. I think she’s going to have a little bit more power than she did last year.”
Stanford was not only the go-to pitcher for Goulder, but she provided a solid bat in the lineup. Little said her daughter’s journey to being a standout for Munford started in the youth leagues of Tipton County.
“This day means a lot of hard work and a lot of joy,” she said. “There were a lot of times we had to scrabble to get to a ball field. She’s been playing since she was 5 years old.
My little girl is becoming such a wonderful athlete and maturing into a wonderful lady,” Little added. “And now going on to better herself in college with her abilities.”
Stanford’s abilities were questionable after suffering a rotator cuff injury during her ninth grade season. Rehabbing her pitching arm, Stanford has to miss a chunk of action and when she was in uniform, her role was limited.
“It hurt and it devastated me,” she recalled. “I’ve never been on to set on the bench. It made me feel like I wasn’t of any use to the team anymore. I hurt it my freshman year. I recovered from it a little bit. Then my sophomore year I tore it more.”
Allen said knowing what his daughter has overcome to break records and Munford and earn a college scholarship made the day even more special.
“The joy is seeing all of the hard work pay off, getting a full ride to college,” he said. “And just seeing her happy, she enjoys the game, the company of other players and coaches. That’s probably the biggest thing, the fellowship of the game.
“Last year was really big because she just came off of the injury,” Alex continued. “With the injury, we didn’t know if she would be able to pitch again. She tore her rotator cuff. That was the big thing just seeing her return to the pitcher’s circle then return to it playing very well. She really pushed herself to return to what she loved. That was a big inspiration to me, that you never give up. And I think she’s the one who taught me that.”
Alex said the desire to want to contribute to the team and be their for her fellow seniors inspired her.
“It felt really good to contribute coming out off being hurt,” she said. “It helped me realize I wasn’t just somebody there, ‘Oh, you’re hurt so we really don’t need you.’ It made me feel like they could use me and I’m grateful that I’m being able to pitch now.
“I’ve always just wanted to please people,” Alex added. “Even if I get down, there is still eight more people behind me who will help lift me up. And if they’re not up, we’ll work together and pull through.”
Alex said her teammates and coaches over the years always supported her in her journey to becoming a clutch player. But the making of the Assasian started under the guidance of Allen and Kristin.
“They helped me with taking me to games every weekend with travel ball, thousands and thousands of dollars,” Alex concluded. “Even when they couldn’t make it, they always made sure somebody was there for me. Especially my grandparents, with four grandkids, they would go to 20 games a weekend. And every game they could make, they would make it.”