Valdosta State University is expecting to have a 22-year-old freshman on its softball team next spring. After visiting the south Georgia campus Friday, former East Ridge pitcher Ashley Adkins agreed to accept a scholarship offer from VSU coach Thomas Macera.
Adkins, now 21, is a former all-city player who never played at the college level. She cited being burned out on the game as the reason she walked away when she did. This summer she joined Team Chattanooga, a 23-under team coached by her former Frost Falcons summer coach, Bobby Hudgens.
"I wanted to play," Adkins said. "That's all I know. I was just doing it to have some fun. I wasn't expecting this."
Now that an offer to get back into the game at the college level has resurfaced, Adkins has resumed working out. The right-hander also is striving to add a dropball to her pitching arsenal.
"Doors don't open like that all the time," Hudgens said of Adkins' second opportunity. "She's got a good screwball, a good changeup and a good bat. She's also playing third base and left field -- places she's played before. She's just got to get back to a level of consistency."
During her time off, Adkins and her father, Bill, a former Falcons assistant to Hudgens, occasionally went out in the yard and played catch.
"She told me she really wanted to get back into playing," her father said. "I knew she would. It was a big part of her life before, and she's really good at it. As far as the opportunity, I'm very excited for her. I think she's missed even tasting the dirt."
Valdosta State finished 57-8 last season, losing twice to fellow Gulf South Conference member Alabama-Huntsville in an NCAA Division II super regional. It marked the only two times the Lady Blazers were shut out all season. Hixson graduate Holly Satterfield will be a junior pitcher at VSU next spring. Her father, David, was instrumental in getting the program reacquainted with Adkins.
Macera has spent the last four years as VSU's head coach and this summer is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bandits, which won the National Pro Fastpitch League last year. Adkins said he's all about performance -- on the field, the practice field or in the classroom.
"He wants you to be the best you can be," Adkins said. "I'm just really excited."
She is taking six hours of classes at Chattanooga State while also working at a local restaurant. She plans to take six more hours of classes in the fall semester. Provided there's no problems with her transcripts, Adkins intends to enroll at VSU in January. She plans to become a special education teacher.