November 8, 2017 10:12:55 PM
VERNON, Ala. -- Steve Brock remembers the conversation.
It doesn't matter that it was five years ago. When a seventh-grader tells you she wants to play softball in college, you listen. Brock did his best to tell Savannah Sudduth how hard she was going to have to work to realize that goal.
Sudduth hasn't let anything stop her from achieving her dream.
On Wednesday, Sudduth made her dream a reality when she signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Division I Jacksonville State.
"It is a relief," Sudduth said. "I was really hoping (this day would come). There was a lot of hope."
Brock, who has been at Lamar County High for 13 years, said Sudduth is the first player in his time at the school to sign a NLI to play softball at a Division I school. He said he didn't know any players who achieved that feat prior to his arrival.
Sudduth didn't recall the conversation she had with Brock when she was in the seventh grade, but she said she has been competitive since she started playing the sport when she was 5 years old. She said she probably knew then softball was going to be her sport. She also plays basketball at the school.
Brock said Sudduth's passion for the sport never waned after he learned about her interest to play softball in college. He acknowledged a lot of seventh-graders have dreams like Sudduth, but he said a lot of student-athletes lose interest or branch out in other directions. Brock said that never happened with Sudduth.
"She has put her grades No. 1 and her athletics right behind it," Brock said. "She is one who is always going to be trying to better herself. One thing I like about her is there is no selfishness in her. She is going to put the team before herself."
Sudduth's Twitter account provides an ideal example. It contains the phrase "Always stay humble and kind." She said those words have been on her Twitter account ever since she joined the community because they remind her not to get cocky and to continue to work hard.
Sudduth's Twitter page also contains the words #livelike14 in memory of former Lamar County High student-athlete Bryce Myles, who died in a single-car accident in June 2015 in Lamar County. Myles was involved in track and field, basketball, and football at the school. He wore No. 14.
Sudduth said she keeps #livelike14 on her Twitter account because Myles was a role model to a lot of people at the school.
Sudduth played an integral role last season on a team that went 38-11. She was third among regulars with a .455 batting average. She was second on the team in runs (61), tied for second in hits (65), third in doubles (11), and first in triples (10). Her showing at the plate came after she hit .471 as a sophomore.
"She works extremely hard," Brock said. "She has been working hard ever since she started playing the game as far as going to camps and playing travel ball. She has always been around the game. She has an attitude that you want for a student-athlete. She is just one of those players you can't replace. You can go to her at all times. She is a true leader on and off the field."
Brock said Sudduth wants to be in clutch situations to produce for her team. He said she has set the example ever since she earned a spot in the starting lineup as a seventh-grader.
You need only to watch Sudduth's highlights on YouTube to see she eats, drinks, sleeps, and breathes softball. While that might sound cliche', Brock said it is 100 percent true.
"She loves to work out. She loves to condition," Brock said. "She loves the game."
Sudduth feels her work ethic helped her realize a goal that has been years in the making. She said her desire not to let her teammates down has been a source of motivation throughout the years. Sudduth knows that drive will remain with her the rest of this school year and throughout her college career.
After watching Sudduth make her dream come true, Brock knows that's true.
"She has continuously worked hard," Brock said. "She has that drive. Some kids have it. Some kids don't. A lot of kids want to give up when things get hard. She is not like that. She wants to keep working and keep going."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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