By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Going to an out-of-state college can be a scary proposition for any prep athlete fortunate enough to continue their playing careers. Having to leave behind family, friends and your hometown isn’t always the easiest situation for the average 18-year-old to handle.
It will be for Good Hope’s Darcie Wilson, however.
Although saying good-bye to her loved ones will surely be emotional, the senior softball standout will be greeted by a familiar face when she heads to Martin-Methodist College, where she recently signed a scholarship to play for coach Brandie Paul and the Red Hawk softball program this fall.
“Nina (Mills) definitely played a part in me going there,” Wilson said of her former teammate. “She was constantly asking me, ‘Have you signed yet?’ She said it was a great place to go to school.”
Wilson is of course speaking of Good Hope basketball great Nina Mills, who made the trek to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ institution after graduating back in 2012. Mills was an All-State standout for the Raiders, leading the basketball team to two-straight Final Four appearances in her junior and senior seasons.
It wasn’t just Mills that drew Wilson to Pulaski, Tenn., though, as the Red and White senior had plenty to rave about following her visit earlier in the spring.
“The coaches were nice, and I really loved the small campus,” she said. “The whole team welcomed me with open arms. You couldn’t ask for anything better. I looked at them and just knew there’d be success there.”
After playing an integral part in the Raiders’ second run to the state tournament in as many years, Wilson won’t be riding anyone’s coattails entering her freshman season at the next level.
The backstop has hit .277 so far her senior season with a .417 on-base percentage. She’s slugged 36 hits, driven in 29 runs and touched home plate 35 times to help Good Hope reach 41 wins during her final campaign. Wilson even bopped a 13th-inning walk-off home run against Cordova in the first round of the North Central Regional Softball Tournament in Tuscaloosa just last weekend.
She’s made the All-County team each of her four high school years, as well as the All-Area team her past two seasons. Wilson was also named an National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Scholar Athlete during her ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade years.
With the Red Hawks fielding both a varsity and junior varsity club, Wilson will get solid playing time no matter where she ends up. She’s gunning, however, to be starting for the A-team once the season rolls around.
“The coaches said if I wasn’t ready, they’d put my on junior varsity,” Wilson said. “But I honestly think there’s a good chance that I’ll be playing for the varsity.”
Martin-Methodist fielded a relatively young team this past season, only graduating five seniors from a squad that went 28-22 on the year, including a 9-5 mark in the TranSouth Conference. Paul will enter her 14th season as head coach for the Red Hawks, and Wilson said she couldn’t wait to get tutelage from the well-respected coach.
“She’s such a character, but I love her,” Wilson said. “I could tell right away that she’s really, really dedicated to the sport.”
The decision to head to Tennessee didn’t always come easy for Wilson. However, after thinking about it for a few days, the catcher now has no doubt she made the right decision.
“It was hard at first, because I had another offer from Central College in Kentucky,” she said. “They’re Division III, though, so I couldn’t get athletic money. That kind of narrowed it down to Martin. But once I got my signature down on that piece of paper, I felt great. I can’t wait to get started.”
No. 2 Good Hope (41-8) is slated to play No. 6 White Plains today at 10:30 a.m. in the first round of the Class 3A State Tournament. The Raiders will then either play Straughn or Madison Academy in the consolation round at 5:30 p.m. or the winner’s bracket at 7 p.m.
‰ Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.