06/13/08 — Lofton says 'yes' to UNCW

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Lofton says 'yes' to UNCW

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 13, 2008 1:54 PM

DUDLEY -- Graduation from high school brings new beginnings.

For Southern Wayne softball standout Brianna Lofton, her new beginning will take place at UNC Wilmington. The speedy outfielder has committed to play for the Seahawks next fall.

"I am really looking forward to the freedom of college," said Lofton. "I can't wait to get there, and get to know everybody and start my classes. I really want to go in and work hard, and try to earn a starting spot right now."

A left fielder, Lofton possesses a variety of attributes that Southern Wayne coach Michael Wiggs believes will help her excel at the collegiate level.

"Brianna has so much potential that she hasn't even tapped into yet," said Wiggs. "As a lead-off hitter, she has the speed to pound the ball into the dirt and beat it out, but she also has the ability to hit for power with her strength and quick bat.

"She has something you can't teach ... speed."

No stranger to winning, Lofton has been an integral part of a senior class that has won an astounding 44 games over the last two seasons. She hopes she can use that experience to help turn around a struggling Seahawk program.

UNC finished 3-18 in conference play this spring.

"After my junior year, around last June, I started looking at places and sending softball stuff to a few that I was interested in," said Lofton. "Once I decided I wanted to go to UNC Wilmington, we stopped sending stuff out and we focused on them."

When Lofton arrives in Wilmington she will join a program in transition.

Seven-year head coach Melissa Jarrell announced last week that she is leaving the program. She officially handed the reins to an assistant coach while a national coaching search gets underway.

Unaffected by the change at the helm, Lofton expected last week's announcement.

"I actually called it that coach Jarrell was going to step down," said Lofton. "She just had twins, so I had a feeling that she might decide to leave the program."

The speedster and her high school coach agree that a new manager at the next level can often bring new opportunities for incoming players.

"With her mentality I don't have any doubt that she will contribute," said Wiggs. "Brianna is a different type of athlete. She gets herself in a zone before the game and she doesn't need a lot of pregame coaching to get ready."

During her senior season, Lofton batted .344 with 28 hits and two home runs.