The transition wasn’t easy when Carley Martin first came to Heritage Academy from Shreveport, Louisiana, in sixth grade.
Soon, though, Martin began to make friends. One of the first was Madison Tipton, a fellow sixth-grader who joined Martin on the softball team.
That was six years ago. The two Patriots have been throwing partners — and close friends — ever since.
“She really impacted my softball career,” Tipton said of Martin. “She’s an amazing player. I love playing with her. She’s one of my best friends.”
On Thursday, both Heritage Academy seniors took a step up in their softball careers. Tipton signed her letter of intent to play for Mississippi University for Women; Martin will head to East Mississippi Community College.
“I think they’re glad that they get to share this moment together,” Heritage Academy coach Heidi Matthews said.
Matthews, in her first year coaching the Patriots, said Tipton and Martin deserved it thanks to positive attitudes and hard work. With a small roster this fall, they had to put in extra time to improve their game and help the team.
“It’s special,” Matthews said. “I’m very proud of the way they’ve played and the way they’ve handled themselves.”
A former player and current graduate assistant at MUW, Matthews will be able to continue her relationship with Tipton. The coach was pleased when Tipton informed her of her college choice.
“I was like, ‘OK, well, that’s good. I have some ins over there,'” Matthews said.
Tipton said she had her eye on playing for The W for a couple years, and her likes for the school’s business program as well as new coach Charles “Buddy” Foster helped solidify the decision.
“It’s something I’ve looked forward to my whole life,” Tipton said. “I’m just happy I get to continue my softball career with an amazing program and an amazing school.”
Martin said she fell in love with EMCC’s coaches — Austin McNair and Kimmy Nicholson — as well as the campus on her first visit. Right then, she knew the school was “perfect” for her. A shortstop at Heritage Academy, she will likely play second base in college.
She’ll also have to split up with Tipton, but the two don’t look at it as a bad thing. Instead, they’ll get to share their new experiences — and they might even face off in an exhibition or two.
“We’ll have to play against each other, so that’ll be fun,” Martin said. “We can finally go our own ways and still be able to talk about it and stuff and have that moment together.”
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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