By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
MUFREESBORO — Once a Devilette, always a Devilette.
After playing for South Fulton softball teams that made the state tournament in each of her four high school seasons more than a decade ago, Grace (Moss) Wood had no trouble deciding what she and her young daughter would do on her day off Wednesday.
“I wanted to teach her about softball and my alma mater,” Wood said, gesturing toward 21⁄2 year-old Ensley, as they watched SF play University School of Johnson City in a Class 1A elimination game. “Those were some great times, and Coach (Curt) Lee and Coach (Chuck) Serratt were very influential in my life.”
Wood, a pharmacist in Lebanon and a 2002 SFHS graduate, was one of a handful of former South Fulton players to come to Murfreesboro to see the young upstart Devilettes play in the state tournament for a seventh time in the 15-year tenure of Lee.
Three-time all-state pitcher Haley McKinney and slugging third baseman Marina Barclay — both of whom graduated last year — also were in attendance on separate days to cheer on the Big Red.
Wood, whose husband E.J. is the head baseball coach at Watertown and the son of longtime South Fulton head football coach Gwin Wood, even showed her true colors by sporting an old Devilette softball T-shirt she said was discovered “when we cleaned out the coach’s office.”
She spoke glowingly of Lee, whose hard-nosed, no-excuse tactics with players do not always make the coach a favorite of some — both in his own camp and in that of the opposition.
“I understood early on what Coach Lee was doing with us when I was a player and I understood why,” Wood said. “I really understand it now.
“He was hard on us and it was tough, but there’s not one thing about it I would change today.”
Wood’s attendance and support even brought a smile to the face of the taskmaster Lee, who grinned big when acknowledging her presence.
“It’s always nice to see a familiar face, and it gives assurance that you’re doing good things and the right things that girls remember when they take time out of their lives as adults to come back and support the program,” the coach said. “I have no doubt Grace remembers the success we had when she was in school, but it makes me proud that she knows and recognizes that a lot of what we try to teach and instill includes both softball lessons and things the girls can carry on in life.”
Young Ensley, meanwhile — the older sister to Ellie who didn’t make the trip to the game — was the typical young girl for the duration of the contest, talking, visiting and rarely sitting still.
She eventually found her way to the lap of Serratt’s wife, Wanda, where she gradually wound down and fought the notion of a nap before closing her eyes for a few seconds while the latter innings were being completed.
Possibly dreaming of a being a Devilette — just like her mother.
Published in The Messenger 5.23.13