By Thomas Sellers Jr.
West Tennessee made its presence felt loud and clear earlier this month participating in its first Tennessee Softball Coaches Association’s All-Star Game.
And if West Tennessee Director Emily Jacobs-Stewart had her way, the region’s representation in the annual event will be stronger with the arrival of more schools from Shelby County and the rest of West Tennessee.
Jacobs-Stewart, from Brighton, is one of the West Tennessee directors and helped select the first group of seniors to compose the West Tennessee All-Stars playing East and Middle Tennessee Stars on June 13 on the campus of Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
The West Tennessee All-Stars finished first led by Jacobs-Stewart winning both games 4-3 and 10-0 over East Tennessee All-Stars and Middle Tennessee respectively.
“It felt good to win,” she said. “It was nice to know that we can represent the state. Several of our members of our team were selected to play in the Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game. Two from ours were Alex Turner of Munford and Glenn of Covington.”
The TSCA Board and Regional Directors went through hundreds of nominations and individual stats to hand select participants for the All-Star Game. The three divisional teams representing all classifications from West Tennessee, East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee played wearing their team’s uniform. From Tipton County were Alex Turner (Munford), Gabby Glenn (Covington), Hadley Wilkens (Brighton) and Mady Kate-Gantt (Tipton-Rosemark Academy).
The event was previously held in Murfreesboro between East and Middle. With the introduction of the West team, the event featured a round-robin trio of games with the East playing the Middle, the East playing the West and wrapping up with the Middle against the West.
After the June 13 games, several of those players moved on to represent the state of Tennessee in the annual Kentucky/Tennessee All-Star game to be played June 27 also in Cookeville. Turner and Glenn returned to the field this time wearing Tennessee orange and representing the Volunteer State.
That was made possible by their schools being members of the TSCA.
We want to get them (more schools) to join the TSCA because if you don’t join your kids can’t participate for West Tennessee in the All-Star Game,” Jacobs-Stewarts noted. “You can’t be recognized for the Coaches’ All-State and things like that.”
Two of Jacobs-Stewart Brighton Lady Cardinals were named to the All-State with Seeley Layne and Wilkens. They were chosen out of the nearly 100 high schools already a part of the TSCA.
Overall there are 100 member schools including colleges and private schools. Local schools like Bolton, TRA, Covington, Munford and Brighton are active members. Jacobs-Stewart said she wants to see schools like Millington, Collierville, Germantown and Bartlett get involved with TSCA.
Jacobs-Stewart said West Tennessee has the resources to build stronger teams for future All-Star games but the most important part of joining TSCA is opening up scholarship opportunities for student/athletes.
The showcase gave the graduated senior players one more chance to wear their team’s uniforms and receive an honor for their years of work on the softball diamond. For Jacobs-Stewart being the first West Tennessee All-Star coach made her proud.
“It was an honor to coach Hadley one more time,” she said. “She has a realm of talent and I was just glad to see her get out there and compete with the best of the best.
“It’s big shoes to fill coaching the team, I hope they ask me again,” Jacobs-Stewart added. “I had a blast to do it. I hope I get that honor again some other day.”
West Tennessee’s first year in the TSCA has been a success. And with getting the word out from Shelby County to Marshall County to Chester County, Jacobs-Stewart hopes the future is even brighter.
“We made a statement,” she concluded. “I hope that we can continue with that for years to come.”