By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Brighton Lady Cardinals Head Softball Coach Robin Jacobs has witnessed dozens of signing during his tenure.
But the veteran coach will tell you every signee and player moving onto the next level is special in it’s own way. With eight seniors McCallie Ruffin, Hunter Simpson, Morgan Shaver, Lulu Smith, Haley Craig, Hadley Wilkins, Laura Judy and Bri McBride, the Class of 2013 got off to a special start back on Sept. 6 when McBride signed with Blue Mountain College to continue here career.
Since then four other teammates have joined her reaching the college level. Shaver and Smith will play for Dyersburg State and Craig signed a letter of intent to play for Freed-Hardeman.
And recently news came of Judy earning an academic scholarship to Austin Peay and getting preferred walk-on status to play for the Lady Governors.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Judy said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid. It’s great to be able to play some college softball.
“I like having the option of going on academics so I can really do what I want with softball,” she added. “It gives me the confidence to say, ‘Hey, I’m doing what I can to do. I’m not locked into anything.’ I can play with confidence and do my best.”
McBride is one of the best athletes on the roster. And her skills as a centerfielder had her as a top prospect to several colleges. But she wanted to head to the Magnolia State.
“I like Blue Mountain because it’s small and I like a small atmosphere,” she noted. “And it’s Christian based. I just like the coaches and the team.”
Growing up in Brighton and bonding with her teammates, McBride wanted to recreate that in college. With a tradition of All-State players, championships, State Tournament appearances and college signees, the Class of 2013 wanted to keep those traditions alive.
The group of eight has already signed one home plate, a Brighton tradition of reaching 100 wins. They are in line to do it again.
“It’s feels great knowing we had the ability to do it and get those wins,” McBride said. “It’s a good feeling to be a Lady Cardinal.”
McBride has helped earn some of those wins by making diving catches, hustle plays and coming up with clutch hits.
“God had definitely blessed me,” she said. ‘I have speed and coordination I guess. I just get out there and do it.”
Judy, who pitches a majority of games, said she feels good knowing Bri is out in centerfield.
“I wouldn’t like anyone else out there,” she said. “Bri is the only person I want out there. She makes me feel comfortable.”
“It feels good to hear that especially since we’ve played softball together for the last 7 years,” McBride said.
McBride said she has respect for Judy taking on the challenge of pitching against touch competition.
“I can always count on Laura Judy,” she said. “Laura is a great teammate. She’s more like a sister to me. She gets the job done.”
Following in the footsteps of Brighton pitching greats like Ashley Craig, Whitni Smith and Leanna Coulston, Judy said she figured out what made them so good helping to figure out how to continue the winning tradition.
“I like being a leader and leading the team,” Judy said. “I feel like it’s a good position to set precedence for the other girls. I keep the mood of the game going. You’re an essential player on the team and that’s my responsibility to keep everyone up. I like having that leadership position.”
Now Judy will have a position waiting for her on the Austin Peay roster. The senior ace said the Class of 2013 are all leaders who chased their dreams.
“We have a lot of dedication,” she said. “We see something and go after it. We’re not complacent and just say, ‘If we do or we don’t.’ We all knew we wanted to play softball at the next level, so we all did what we had to do to make it happen.”
McBride said wherever the senior Lady Cardinals go, whether Knoxville or Clarksville, they have a special bond.
“I’m proud of every single one of my sisters going out there getting their job done and working as a team,” she concluded. “I’m proud of them all for doing their best.”
And Judy said the best ending for their last season at Brighton would be a trip to Murfreesboro.
“Going to State, that’s the only way to end the season,” she concluded. “I can see us doing it. This is the year.”