Georgetown High School’s Katie Lunsford signs to play softball at Aiken Technical College on Tuesday morning. Looking on are her parents, Keith and Kay Lunsford, and her travel ball coach, Petey Roberts.
By Chris Sokoloski
Georgetown High School shortstop Katie Lunsford signed to continue her softball career at Aiken Technical College on Tuesday.
"It means a lot to be going to college and going further in softball," Lunsford said. "I decided I wanted to play in my 10th grade year, I just didn't know where."
"Katie is a hard-nosed player," Aiken Tech coach Mitch Smith said. "She plays the game hard and that's the kind of kids we're looking for."
Lunsford joined Georgetown's varsity squad when she was in eighth grade.
"She's been an absolutely great player ever since she's been on our team," Bulldogs coach Al Hutchinson said. "I can't describe what it means to me as a coach to have somebody like that on the team."
Lunsford was the only senior on the 2012 squad that made it all the way to the Lower State finals, where they lost to Hartsville.
"She's always been a very good player, but this year she stepped up, being the only senior on the team, to show a great deal of leadership, something that we needed," Hutchinson said. "Defensively she played tremendously all year, made great plays. The last game, even though we lost to Hartsville, she made some of the best plays I've seen in years. Offensively in the playoffs, she was stepping up and getting that big hit for us. I think that was one of the big reasons we got as far as we did."
Georgetown played 28 games this season, which stated in February and ended in May.
Aiken Tech plays nearly 100 games a season. The Lady Knights play a fall "pre-season" schedule of about 25 games, and then the regular season begins at the end of January and consists of about 65 games.
"Going to college you have two jobs," Lunsford said. "You have to keep your grades up and bring it on the field. I think it's going to be a lot harder with tougher competition."
"Softball's going to be a little more intense for them, they're going to have to learn to be a student-athlete," Smith said of college freshmen. "They're going to have to learn how to manage their time, keep their grades up and also have to deal with treating the softball part as almost like a full-time job. It's going to be 30 to 40 hours a week on top of school."
Lunsford played travel softball while in high school, which should make the transition a little smoother, according to Smith.
"If you get a kid who's been through high school ball and travel then they're used to it," Smith said. "Playing travel ball, they're going to each weekend playing five or six games a weekend all summer, so it's almost the same."
The Lady Knights made their first trip to the junior college World Series, where they were knocked out by Chattanooga State, the No. 1 seed and eventual national champion. The Tigers were led by Waccamaw High graduate Ashley Czechner.
Lunsford plans to study to become an x-ray technician.
She said her favorite memories of Georgetown are of her teammates.
"My teammates are like family to me," she said. "They made it fun."
She is looking forward to becoming part of a new "softball family" at Aiken Tech.
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