05/13/08 — Saints' Bradshaw signs with MOC

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Saints' Bradshaw signs with MOC

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 13, 2008 3:22 PM

DUDLEY -- Eastern North Carolina athletes are beginning to infiltrate the Mount Olive College softball program.

Alyssa Bradshaw is the latest addition. The Southern Wayne senior thought about attending Barton or maybe venturing to East Carolina. But she chose to sign with Mount Olive, a quickly-rising program on the Division II scene.

"I wanted to stay close to my parents and I think it will be a good fit for me," said Bradshaw. "They've got a great team and I'd love to play with some of those players, especially Jenny Jackson."

Once Bradshaw earns a uniform, not only will she join Jackson, but she'll be reunited with former teammate Karen Thornton. She'll also play alongside former Eastern Carolina Conference opponents Jazzmine Lee (C.B. Aycock) and Kelly Minshew (Beddingfield).

Bradshaw will become the 10th eastern North Carolina player on the Trojans' roster.

MOC head coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham relishes Bradshaw's power hitting, and could put her in the lineup at either first or second base. Bradshaw feels like she hasn't reached her potential, nor does she think she utilizes all of her power when attacking a pitch at the plate.

"I do enough to get a hit," chuckled Bradshaw.

Southern Wayne coach Michael Wiggs compares Bradshaw to Major League Hall of Fame inductee Tony Gwynn. She's not flashy, but gets the job done and lets the pitch carry her when she's in the box.

"Alyssa is one of those players that if you look at her away from the field, you don't realize all the potential she has in her game," said Wiggs. "She is a great hitter, by far the best I've ever seen in high school softball. She is beginning to understand how to hit with more power.

"She's just a tremendous player."

And a player accustomed to winning.

A four-year starter, Bradshaw is one of Southern Wayne seniors who've helped the Saints gain respect on the high school fast-pitch scene. She's earned all-ECC honors as a sophomore and junior, and been an integral part of 80 wins -- and counting -- on the diamond during her career.

The Saints have made three playoff appearances in the last four years and seized a share of the 2008 ECC regular-season championship. It's the program's first-ever, fast-pitch title.

"There are a great bunch of girls in this senior class," said Bradshaw. "I've played with most of them since middle school. I think the program is starting to get a lot of respect."

Jackson has helped Mount Olive gain respect. The right-hander toiled through an injury-plagued season as the Trojans finished second in the 2008 Conference Carolinas tournament. MOC battled back in the consolation bracket and came closing to clinching the program's first-ever berth in the South Atlantic Regional.

The Trojans concluded the year 29-21 after winning a school-record 39 games in 2007, and seizing a share of the regular-season championship.

Wiggs thinks Bradshaw will be a good fit for the Trojans.

"I think she's going to be a hard worker because now she's reached that goal to play college softball," said Wiggs. "I think she is going to do everything she can to stay in that lineup. It's going to be a very smooth transition for her because the skills are there and she's going to perfect those skills."