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Thurman sprouts wings
Sutter senior taking talents to Southern Mississippi
Just five hours in Mississippi and Chanell Thurman already had a southern accent.
It did not take her much longer than that to decide the University of Southern Mississippi is where she wants to play softball next.
“I really loved it,” said Thurman, a Sutter High senior who lives in Yuba City.
Thurman had a two-day recruiting trip with all the bells and whistles.
She met her future teammates, did a little tailgating and got to watch the Eagles host Memphis in a Div. I football game.
“It was so welcoming and everyone was so friendly,” she said. “The whole town supports everything about Southern Mississippi.”
That town is Hattiesberg, a city of 50,000 that is less than 90 minutes from New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., the Gulf Coast and Jackson, Miss.
By the time Thurman was on the plane heading home, her plans to visit Rutgers were canceled and it was only a matter of signing her commitment letter.
“I knew I wanted to sign then,” Thurman said.
The senior said her parents advised her to give it some thought and look at some of the other schools interested in her, but when they saw she was excited about Southern Mississippi, then the decision was made.
Thurman has accepted a 75 percent scholarship with theEagles, and could make it a full ride depending on her final S.A.T. scores.
More tantalizing for Thurman is a promise she will have a shot to start at shortstop.
“Right now they only have one shortstop and she is a senior,” Thurman said.
Thurman said coach Howard Dobson is looking at her and another freshman recruit, Britney Dinelt of Tacoma, Wash., to anchor the middle infield for the Eagles for the next four years.
“Chanell is a big-time hitting, middle infielder,” Dobson said on the school’s Web site. “She will be able to come and add power to the middle of our lineup, as well as being a solid defender. She has the potential for a huge upside with the way she hits and plays defense.”
Thurman hit .496 with six home runs, nine doubles, three triples and drove in 40 runs last season for Sutter. As a sophomore, she hit .481 and fields a .409 batting average for her career with the Huskies.
But it was actually her play for the Capital City Comets Elite Gold ASA team in the offseason that caught the eye of Southern Mississippi scouts – that and a skills video she had made with her hitting instructor, Kelly Jackson.
Playing Division I softball is a culmination of a dream she started when she fell in love with softball while playing Little League.
A pitching sensation in those early years, Thurman also broke into the prep ranks as a pitcher.
But Thurman was looking ahead.
She knew college pitchers did not get to hit, and she wants to hit.
Just as importantly, Thurman wanted to play in the field.
“Hitting is actually working on hitting. On defense, you just go out there and play and dive after balls,” said Thurman, who admits she works at her fielding as well. “But I like diving all over the place.”