One season as the Bryan College softball coach got Kayla Watkins a job in NCAA Division I. The NAIA school in Dayton, Tenn., announced Monday that Watkins is leaving to become an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi, where she will be responsible for recruiting and pitching. She previously coached for nine years at Central High School in Madison, Miss., with three state Class 6A championships and three state-runner-up finishes, and she was the MHSAA state coach of the year in 2011. She had starred as a batter and pitcher at Mississippi College. Watkins' 2017 Lady Lions were only 23-24 overall, but they warmed up when league play began and wound up 15-5 and regular-season co-champions with nationally 16th-ranked Reinhardt in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Among their nonconference victories were an extra-inning upset of then No. 14 Martin Methodist and a defeat of then No. 2 Brenau. "Coach Watkins did a fabulous job during her time here, and she will be greatly missed," athletic director Taylor Hasty said in the school release. "I wish her all the best as she moves to USM." Said Watkins: "My time at Bryan has been such an incredible experience. When I came here a year ago, I knew that I would have the distinct privilege of working with a great group of girls toward pursuing excellence on and off the field, and most importantly in our pursuit of Christ. It has been nothing short of that." She proceeded to thank "each of the girls" for their contributions and Dr. Stephen Livesay, the school president, and Hasty for the opportunity.
Track & Field
* Former McCallie School track and field star Michael Bingham got a bronze medal from the 2008 Olympics on Sunday. Representing Great Britain in those Olympics in Beijing, the 2004 McCallie graduate ran the 4x400-meter relay with Martyn Roomey, Andrew Steele and Robert Tobin. Retests conducted last year of doping samples from the Beijing Games showed that Russia's Denis Alexeev was using an anabolic steroid during competition, according to a news release, so his third-place team was disqualified in the event and the British foursome moved up from fourth to third. A ceremony was held for them Sunday at the London stop of the IAAF Diamond League. It was held in front of thousands of spectators in London's main stadium for the 2012 Olympics. "For Michael to get this award, even nine years later, is an amazing achievement," McCallie coach Mike Wood said in a school release. "Michael's talent and determination has been evident since he was a student at McCallie. He was destined to do amazing things on the track, and it's heartening to see he and his teammates finally get the result they deserved for competing in the right way." A two-time Division II state decathlon champion and 100-meter champ who also won TSSAA titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles, 200 and 400 and triple jump while with the Blue Tornado, Bingham competed collegiately for Wake Forest.
* David Young of Loudon won the $5,000 top prize in the Super Pro class at the Brainerd Motorsports Park on Sunday, and strip Hall of Famer L.C. Bigham from Tunnel Hill notched another Foot Brake victory in his 1966 Plymouth. Bigham, who has more than 500 wins over the years at the drag strip, got $2,000 for his 9.67-second run on a 9.66 dial that relegated son David Bigham from Calhoun, Ga., to second place in a 1972 Dodge. Young's winning run was 5.74 seconds on a 5.71 dial in a 1962 Chevy II, and teenager Jake Clayton from Ooltewah was second with a 5.87 on a 5.87 in his 1989 Cavalier. Shelby Whittle of LaFayette was the Junior Dragster winner with a 7.88 on a 7.90, and Griffin Haygood of Dutton, Ala., was second. Brian Dale won the 20-entry motorcycle class with a 5.79 burst on a 5.76 dial on a 1989 Suzuki; Michael Wilson of Tallapoosa, Ga., was second with a 6.78 on a 6.76 on a 2005 Yamaha.