Prince relieved to make decision
Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Meagan Prince has now made the most important decision of her young life. She will spend the rest of her high school senior year confident in the knowledge that she made the right choice.
A member of the Westview softball team, Prince signed grant-in-aid papers to attend the University of Kentucky on an athletic scholarship next year. A double-signing ceremony — basketball player Teddy Vincent signed with High Point University — was held Friday morning in the school’s library.
“It a relief, because now I can go play high school ball,” Prince said. “I don’t have to think so much about colleges or worry about signing and setting all this up, which was mostly my mom organizing everything. It just frees everything up so I can relax and play the sport I love.”
She has certainly shown the love during her prep career.
Despite injuries in her early years of high school ball, Prince has developed into one of Tennessee’s most elite pitchers.
As a junior last year, she posted a 21-6 record with 313 strikeouts in 173 innings pitched. Her 0.70 earned run average included several no-hitters and one perfect game.
Prince has developed the offensive part of her game, now proficient with a bat in her hands. Last season, she had 31 hits, including six doubles and two triples. She drove in 12 runs and scored seven times.
Westview head coach Jessica Hightower certainly wants Prince to post numbers that are at least as good, which were good enough for All-State honors from the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. The also wants Prince to take care of other business as well.
“She just needs to relax and be herself,” Hightower said. “Just pitch her games, be a good team leader and role model and just keep the enthusiasm up. One of the things at the high school level is that they’re so emotional. If you’re down, you’re really down. If you’re up, you’re so excited that you start making mistakes. I think her experiences can help her keep a level head. She’s been a good mentor for a lot of the kids every year.”
To that end, Prince said she still has a few items to check off her high school to-do list.
“I still have some personal goals I’d like to achieve,” Prince said. “The last time Westview was in the state tournament was my freshman year. It was a great experience, and even though I had a broken thumb, I still had great time. I know the juniors, sophomores and freshmen haven’t experienced that yet, so I’d like our senior class to take them to state.”
Wanting to be a leader to her younger teammates is one of those intangibles that set Prince apart from the crowd — on and off the softball field.
“She’s a team player,” Hightower said. “She has that attitude you want on your team. It’s an infectious attitude that she’s not willing to settle for second best, and she’s not willing to allow her teammates to settle for second best. And, it’s not that abusive, cocky attitude. There are those players who throw their weight around, and it’s almost resented, where I feel like she does a very good job of that balance. And, being in the position of authority as an upperclassman, that is a very hard balance.”
There is that never-quit attitude that has also allowed Prince to reach her goal of playing collegiate softball.
“She’s been an asset to the team since she stepped onto the field as a freshman,” Hightower said. “Even though she had some injuries early on, she didn’t let that get her down. That’s been the biggest thing, Meagan’s determination. Once she sets her mind to something, she pushes to that goal. We stress this as coaches and as adults that if you work hard, you play by the rules and you do what your supposed to, then you get rewarded in the end. And, this is one of those nice rewards at the end. She can go on to the next level.”
Recruited by hometown school UT Martin as well as Mississippi State and Southern Illinois before deciding on UK, Prince admitted that the recruiting process and the decision of how to spend the next four years of her life was intimidating somewhat. But, she turned to her faith to help her through the process. Then, it was just a matter of which place was the best fit. UK, it turned out, was a no-brainer.
“It was really a difficult decision,” Prince said. “I was really scared. I’ve always been scared of the future, but I went back to Jeremiah 29:11 and just remembered that God has good plans for me, and that helped a lot.
“I love UK, I love the campus. I think it’s beautiful. I love the coaching staff — (head) coach (Rachel) Lawson, coach (Kristin) Himes, all of them. They’ve had a good softball program the last couple of years. I became more of a Kentucky fan when I really started looking at colleges. The SEC has always been a dream of mine. I’ve told my mom and dad that I wanted to play on TV someday, and I think I’m finally on my way to living out my dream.”
Under Lawson, the Wildcats program has been on the fast track to becoming a major player in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference. In her five years at UK, Lawson has led the program to a 153-133 record, including a 30-30 mark and spot in the NCAA Regionals last season. Published in The WCP 11.20.12