Any child who thinks you have to be a star at a young age to excel in sports later should ask Megan Warhurst how her softball career started, when she was 10.
“I was awful. I was the worst one on the team,” the Russellville grad said recently.
Assuming she was put in right field because she was viewed as a sub-par player, she was discouraged.
“I’ll be honest with you. My parents told me I needed to quit and cheer,” Warhurst said. “My mom was a cheerleader and played tennis, and my dad was a football player. … But I told them ‘No, I want to go big places (with softball). Whenever I told them that, we have worked and worked to this point.”
Warhurst started pitching at age 12, around the time she decided she wanted to play in college. Six years later, she is on her way to the University of West Florida to pitch in the Division II Gulf South Conference.
Warhurst went 15-6 with a 1.45 ERA for Russellville and is the TimesDaily’s Class 4A-7A pitcher of the year.
“I really give credit to my parents,” she said. “They are the ones that pushed me to be who I am.”
She and the other TimesDaily players of the year will be honored at the annual Athlete of the Year banquet June 11 at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum where overall male and female athletes of the year and top athletic program will be named.
“I’m very blessed to receive it. Whenever (coach Kathryn Montgomery) called me and told me that I got this, I could not believe it," Warhurst said. "I’m not going to brag on myself. I’m not the type of person that says I’m this and I’m that. I’m not. It’s a true honor to receive this. I think that there’s a lot of people that are in this area that are very good.”
Warhurst’s Golden Tigers advanced out of their area to qualify for the Class 5A North Regional in Florence. They opened with a 3-1 win over Brewer before losing to Ardmore. Russellville then beat Scottsboro before losing to Hamilton — two wins short of a state tournament trip.
“We’re close," Warhurst said of the team's bond. "Our families are close. We see each other outside of school a lot. So we do bond very well together, and that’s very important as a team to bond. That’s exactly what we did.
“We knew how to help each other out. We knew when we were upset. We knew how to pick everybody up. We knew each other very well.”
Another season highlight was a no-hitter against Lawrence County, though interestingly Warhurst said she felt off for much of that game.
Warhurst chose West Florida (where she went to camps as a kid) over UNA, West Georgia, Carrollton (Georgia) and a few junior colleges. She now throws her fastest pitches in the low to mid 60s and also has a changeup, curveball, screwball and riseball.
Warhurst considers herself an independent person and is ready for her new adventure in Pensacola.
“I hope that I am ready for them. That’s what’s important,” Warhurst said. “I hope that I’m ready, that I can do what I need to do for them. That’s what I’m going to work on this summer before I leave.”