By Chris Yow
Journey Mitchell’s path to college softball wasn’t filled with accolades or much fanfare.
The senior has taken a business-like approach as both a pitcher and first baseman throughout her three-year career at Columbia Academy, and put up steady numbers to help her team to a state title in 2019.
On the first day of the NCAA fall signing period, Mitchell inked a scholarship to play at Carson-Newman University during a Wednesday ceremony held in the chapel at CA.
Mitchell was poised to be the team’s ace in the circle last season, but the reigning Class A state titlists did not get the opportunity to repeat in Division II-A due to COVID-19. CA coach Seth Anderson is looking for her to be a leader of his squad in 2021.
“Journey is one of our senior leaders, and for a kid who’s going to be a cornerstone for our team, we just want her to enjoy her senior year,” Anderson said.
Having fun is important to Mitchell, but she said it’s easier to have fun when your team is winning.
“If we all do our parts, everything comes together on its own, and that’s when it’s fun,” she said. “When you don’t have to stress over someone doing their job in the field, it’s a lot easier to have fun.”
Over two years and four games, Mitchell has been a solid option for Anderson behind now-University of North Alabama pitcher Brittany Adair. Mitchell has thrown 143 innings thus far in her career, and tallied 218 strikeouts and a 1.21 ERA.
Mitchell chose Carson-Newman — an NCAA Division II program in Jefferson City, Tenn. — over Mercer and Trevecca, due in large part to the commitment the Eagles have to their softball program.
“The softball team is treated the same as the football team there,” she said. “We share a weight room with them, and that’s not how it is in most places.”
Additionally, Mitchell said she felt at home in Jefferson City and at the small faith-based school. She committed to the school despite the possibility of larger schools coming in late with offers.
“I had never even heard of Carson-Newman, but when I went to visit, I absolutely fell in love,”she said. “It’s a cute, small town where everybody knows everybody, and everyone was very welcoming when I would go visit,”
Mitchell said she plans to study nursing, and Carson-Newman boasts a respected program academically as well. The coaching staff being open and willing to allow her to pursue a nursing degree was a large factor in her recruiting.
“Sometimes coaches won’t work around nursing programs because they are so demanding,” she said. “Coach (Michael) Graves being open to it was a big deal.”
Chris Yow is the multimedia editor for SM-Tn Sports. Reach him at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @ChrisYow14.