03/20/10 — Benton: Pitt CC is perfect fit

View Archive

Benton: Pitt CC is perfect fit

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 20, 2010 11:06 PM

Torie Benton's search ended quickly.

Eager to continue her softball career on the collegiate level, but also seeking a small-school atmosphere, Benton found the perfect fit -- Pitt Community College. The Rosewood High senior signed to play the next two seasons with the perennially-strong Bulldogs.

"I wanted to start small and work my way into a four-year college ... see what college life is like," said Benton, who also considered Division III Methodist University. "They have a good program there and are point-blank in what they do. They have a good schedule plan, so I will be busy all day with classes and then to ball.

"I like that structure."

Benton seized a first-team spot on the 2009 News-Argus All-Area softball team last spring as a second baseman. PCC coach Junior Bailey recruited Benton as a middle infielder since she also plays shortstop, and sometimes outfield, for the 18-Under Hurricanes traveling squad.

"She's got great power and good speed," said Bailey, who recently notched his 100th career win. "Defensively, she has a good glove. She's versatile and that's like most kids who come here because we try to see to where they fit into the program.

"Every kid we bring in, we expect them to contribute immediately. We don't have two years to get them used to the system."

The Bulldogs collected 27 wins last season and were just one victory away from advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I College World Series. Bailey's team fell to Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College in the Region X championship game.

Benton recognizes the program's tradition and relishes the pressure of performing at the next level. A competitor who has gained considerable experience on her traveling team, Benton understands she must battle for playing position.

"It's going to be an experience when I first get out there," said Benton. "I will have to meet the girls and get used to everybody ... see how everybody else plays. I feel like I can get in there and get into the groove.

"It's going to be fun and exciting."

Bailey feels Benton can contribute.

"She's stayed strong with travel ball and has considerable game experience through that," he said. "We're going to give her a chance to play and hopefully, she can move on to a four-year college or university once she leaves here."

To achieve that success, Benton must stay confident in the batter's box and fine-tune the fundamentals. She'll also have to adhere to Bailey's strict academic policy. The fifth-year coach requires his players to maintain a higher grade-point average than the standard set by the school's athletic department.

"I like his tone and how he carries himself, and I really like that," said Benton, who plans to pursue either a physical education or sports management degree. "They say he's a stern and strict coach. He's very structured and maybe he'll help keep me on the right path."