April 16, 2010 9:35:00 AM
MACON -- Alex Dawkins and Lillian Lindsey have been together this long, so they figured it was only natural to want to extend their careers together for another two years.
From Tee Ball to fast-pitch softball to slow-pitch softball, the Central Academy seniors have spent nearly their entire careers together on the same teams.
On Thursday, Dawkins and Lindsey finalized the next step of their journeys when they signed scholarships to play softball at East Mississippi Community College.
"I think it is going to be a step up, but I don''t think it is going to be that much different," Dawkins said. "We play hard ball here, so we know how it feels to be competitive and to be consistent. It will be a big step up, but I think we will be able to handle it. ... It is something we have always wanted. It feels like we accomplished the goals we set."
Both players said they wanted to stay close to home, that they like EMCC coach Kate Neely, and are excited about taking the next steps in their athletic careers. They said they always have been close friends and anticipate being roommates at Scooba.
Neely said she has been watching Dawkins and Lindsey for the past three years. She said both players showed a lot of interest in EMCC and should add plenty of versatility to the program.
"They''re determined," Neely said. "They are both very persistent."
Dawkins and Lindsey have logged plenty of innings in the circle in fast-pitch games for the Lady Vikings. While they could have an opportunity to join an already deep pitching staff, Neely said it is likely Dawkins will see playing time in the outfield and that Lindsey will earn playing time in the infield, probably at third base.
She said both players will prove to people that athletes from small schools like Central Academy, which plays Class A ball, the smallest classification in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, can make an impact.
The Lady Vikings have made believers of teams from larger classifications. Last year, Central Academy was runner-up at the North Half State tournament and the state runner-up in fast-pitch. The Lady Vikings also won the slow-pitch state title.
Both players were All-District selections in 2007 and ''08. Last year, Lindsey was named the MVP of the district and Dawkins was named the district''s Defensive Player of the Year. They also were two of 12 seniors named to the North Half All-Star team.
Lindsey had a 9-3 pitching record with 54 strikeouts in fast-pitch. She had a .417 batting average. Dawkins was 3-0 with 53 strikeouts. She had a .412 batting average.
"We''re full-time athletes," Lindsey said. "Me and Alex haven''t had a free summer since we started the fast-pitch program since eighth grade when the school started the fast-pitch program."
This season, Central Academy is off to a 13-1 start. It suffered its first loss Thursday against Kemper Academy.
Dawkins and Lindsey, who also are on the school''s girls basketball team, said they feel they will have something to prove when they get to EMCC. Neely is confident both players will be able to contribute because they have played at a high level for many years and have faced many of the state''s top pitchers.
"We have worked hard and we have had good coaches," Lindsey said.
Said Dawkins, "We have been playing our whole life. This is not anything new for us. We have been playing since we were 5 years old."
The Lady Lions are coming off a doubleheader sweep against Holmes C.C. on Wednesday. The victories helped EMCC, which has won 10 consecutive division games, improve to 18-25 and 16-2 in league play. The Lady Lions will play at Itawamba C.C. (14-4 in league play) Saturday.
Dawkins and Lindsey join a roster that includes plenty of talent from the Greater Golden Triangle area. They will join DeShuni Sanders (New Hope), Nashedra Barry (Columbus), Portia Randle (Starkville), Katie Newman (Oak Hill Academy), and Justine Jenkins (Caledonia).
Neely said she expects to sign Brook Robinson from West Point next week.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.