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Frost Falcons's Sara Muir smiles after scoring against the Williamsburg (Va.) Starz Gold in the bottom of the fourth inning during the Amateur Softball Association's 14-under girls' fastpitch national tournament at Warner Park on Monday, July 31, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Muir has committed to play at the University of Tennessee.

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Marion's Muir ahead of the game

University of Tennessee softball coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly did not offer Sara Muir a scholarship when she was 5 years old and playing recreation coach-pitch ball for the Diamond Girlz in Jasper, Tenn.

But if they would have, she would've accepted.

Instead, Muir had to wait until she was of middle school age before the proposition came her way. That may still seem young to many when it comes to making a college decision, but such is the world they live in for the girls competing in the Chattanooga area this week in the USA Softball 14-under national tournament.

The 6-foot-1 Muir is about to start her freshman year at Marion County High School. She plans to play basketball in addition to softball.

It was in the summer between her seventh- and eighth-grade years that Muir committed to play softball for Tennessee. At first she wasn't sure she wanted it publicized. She just knew where she wanted to go and was ready for other recruiters to leave her alone.

Muir is a pitcher and first baseman who had been playing for the Chattanooga Force before that team broke up. In 2016 she began playing for Chattanooga's Frost Falcons organization.

Kevin Thompson is her head coach. Muir's father, Greg, is on the staff and primarily works with the pitchers.

Sara began taking pitching lessons when she was 7 from Mike Price in nearby Bridgeport, Ala. She currently works on her pitching with Beth Keylon-Rawlston at the K-Zone Fastpitch Softball Academy in Ooltewah.

The offer Sara had wanted came from Ralph Weekly during a camp the Volunteers were hosting.

"I just started going to their camps a couple of years ago," she said. "We found out about them online."

Other college programs at the time were showing interest, too. Sara is not far enough along in school to be allowed to take official visits by the NCAA, but her first unofficial visit was to Ohio University in 2016 — in January.

"It was cold," Sara said. "It was a long drive, too. I had fun, though. But I don't think I could go to school that many hours away."

Greg isn't one to do a lot of talking about his daughter's exploits on the field. However, when pressed about it, he did admit to having a "dad moment" recently in a tournament.

"Sara was pitching a perfect game into the seventh inning," he said. "I could see her in the dugout by herself. The girls didn't want to go around her. They knew. Then she gave up a walk to the first batter in the seventh. She still had a no-hitter. Then on the next pitch, she turned a double play.

"Marty McDaniel, Tennessee's pitching coach, was watching the game. Usually coaches just stay around two, three, four innings, but he was still there at the end of the game. Someone went over and asked him why he stayed and he said, 'The kid had a perfect game. I didn't want to be the one to do something like get up and leave and jinx it.'"

The reality of the moment for dad was that his daughter was really showing signs of being such a good player that at least one representative from the Southeastern Conference, perhaps considered the nation's best league from top to bottom, was plenty interested.

And her feeling was mutual.

"I've always wanted to go to Tennessee and play," Sara said. "I was interested in Tennessee, even if I didn't play sports. My grandparents and all my family are die-hard Tennessee fans. I just grew up around it."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.

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