Leader Blues

Friday, January 26, 2007

SPORTS >>JHS siblings going to college level

IN SHORT: Somer Grimes and sister Whitney Grimes signed to play college softball.

Leader sports writer

Jacksonville High School softball standouts Whitney and Somer Grimes will continue their educations and softball careers to the east and west of Arkansas starting in the fall. Somer will be heading west to attend Mid America Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as part of the newly re-vamped Lady Evangels softball program.

Whitney will attend Southwest Tennessee Community College, where she will play as a Lady Saluqi.

The two signed their letters of intent Thursday afternoon in the JHS library in front of classmates, faculty and media. Lady Red Devils softball coach Tanya Ganey addressed the full room prior to the signing, giving insight to the significance of the sisters’ big day.

“We’re making history today at Jacksonville High School,” Ganey said. “These will be female scholarships number 52 and 53 from the athletic department. We are happy that these young ladies have been a part of our program, and we are very excited to see them have the opportunity to become better persons, better students, and better athletes.”

MACU coach Jerald Lewis and SWTCC coach Keith Genty both addressed the audience briefly on their excitement over their pickups before Ganey instructed the girls to “sign their lives away.”

Although they are headed in different directions geographically, both Whitney and Somer are walking into similar situations with the up-and-coming programs. Gentry, now in his fourth year as Lady Salukis head coach, has had to virtually build the program from the ground up. He says the addition of Whitney will be a great asset to his program.

“I am already excited about next year,” Gentry said. “Having a player of Whitney’s caliber will be very beneficial to us. The fact that she can play at several positions is a big plus for us. We need players with versatility, and Whitney will be a big boost for our program.”

Whitney is listed as an all-around utility player, with her primary position at short stop. She has been a four-year starter for the Lady Red Devils, earning All-Conference honors her ninth and 10th grade seasons. Whitney’s batting average at JHS was .450, and she was a part of the 2003 USSSA world championship fast-pitch team.

“The coach is a really awesome guy,” Whitney said. “We just talked, and he showed me around the campus. The campus has a beautiful atmosphere; it’s one of the first things that caught my eye. It is a big campus.”

Somer’s future coach says she is a perfect fit for his program, not just on the field, but in the classroom as well. The Lady Evangels softball program actually came to a halt a few years back, but Lewis was brought in to start the program over last season. Somer is actually his second signee for the season, and the third female athletic scholarship recipient in the school’s history.

“We are trying to find people who are great students first and great players second,” Lewis said. “And Somer is that person. We are proud and honored to have Somer come and be a part of our program, and her family as well.”

Somer has been All-State in her sophomore and junior years, as well as a member of the National Honor Society academically. The southpaw has primarily been a catcher, but has also seen time at first base and centerfield. Her high-school batting average is .478, and she has also played on five USSSA world championship teams.

“I chose MACU for its Christian environment,” Somer said. “I love the opportunity to be with a small group of people, and coach Lewis is really nice guy.”

Although Whitney’s high school career is over, Somer and the Lady Red Devils will take to the field in the coming weeks to bid for the 6A-East title. Both Somer and Whitney were a big part of the conference runner-up teams of the past two seasons.