Lenoir City softball athlete swings for college

Lenoir City High School senior Maddie Haskins, center, signs her letter of intent Nov. 11 to play softball at Lincoln Memorial University. Her parents are Debbie and Kerry Haskins.

Lenoir City High School senior Maddie Haskins realized a dream come true Nov. 11 when she signed her letter of intent to play softball at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was really, really little,” Haskins said. “I started playing when I was 3 years old and I wasn’t really any good, but I have worked myself and worked myself up to this point.”

Haskins evolved into a serious softball athlete in travel ball under coach Doug Stooksbury.

By the time she arrived at LCHS, Haskins was ready to make an impact as a freshman.

“She’s just a really solid player all around,” Mike Zeller, LCHS head softball coach, said. “She just really commands the field out there at center, she’s a great hitter and she’s always improved. That’s the thing to take the next step, and she’s just a worker. She’s always asking to stay late and to get there early. It’s always about, ‘Can I get one more ball hit to me? Can I get another pitch thrown to me?’ That’s the kind of player you need to build a program and show those younger girls what it takes, and obviously she’s been rewarded for that to play at the next level. That’s just who she is, what she’s meant to this program and we’re going to miss her a lot.”

Haskins quickly stepped up as a team leader as an underclassmen. As a sophomore, she was named to the 2019 All-County Softball Team after accumulating a .337 batting average, 13 RBIs, 28 runs, four doubles and one home run.

She credits her success to teamwork and splitting time between travel and high school ball.

“I feel like my team is like a second family because we always pick each other up, we all try and help each other any way we’ve can,” Haskins said. “I’ve learned from a lot of upperclassmen that have left, and they’ve helped me through a lot. Playing both is a lot a different, but it’s also the same because it’s not so frustrating and everything and you’re just there to have fun. They’re both still so much fun and they’re like a second family to me.”

Despite not playing last season due to COVID-19, Haskins was able to attend tryouts at Lincoln Memorial and immediately impressed the coaching staff with fielding and hitting abilities, as well as her natural speed around the diamond.

“Whenever I got there, it felt right at home the second I got there,” she said. “Everyone was super nice, and I went for a camp up there and that’s how they noticed me. Everyone was super nice and telling me what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right, so it was very encouraging. I just hope I can grow and learn.”

Transitioning to the Division 2 level will not be easy, but Zeller believes Haskins has all the intangibles to make an impact for the Lady Railsplitters over the next four years.

“I think she’ll fit right in,” Zeller said. “From what I know about their program, they’re a solid program. The coach demands a lot, but they really treat them as individuals as well and make sure they get everything they need. She’ll fit well into there. I know the campus and the atmosphere there, and I think it will really suit her well and she’ll fit right in.”