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Meridian Community College fastpitch softball coach Robert Eakins has some holes to fill defensively.
He can't think of a better place to start looking than with Shareda Brown of Starkville High School.
Brown, who only made four errors and had a fielding percentage of .991 at first base for the Lady Yellowjackets last season, signed with Meridian Community College Monday morning at the school library.
"We played enough games last year where we committed enough (errors)," Eakins said. "We did need some sound defensive players and one of our goals was we wanted to play good defense."
That's something Brown provided for Starkville coach Mimi Milling by leading the team in assists at first base and saved several bad plays from happening.
Milling said Brown was the type of player who could play anywhere on the infield for the Lady Jackets and was determined to improve her skills.
"She has the heart and wants to do it," Brown said. "She's the one who wants to stay 30 minutes after practice to work or however long she needs to. I think she is gong to offer (Meridian) more than just a physical athlete. She's going to be good mentally and emotionally."
Brown said it took quite a bit of practice to mature defensively and also credited the coaches at SHS, especially Sheila Coleman. She also thanked her teammates for their help.
"It was a lot to learn and a lot to take in, but the girls on the team taught me a lot on and off the field in terms of getting along with people and showing my talent," Brown said.
When she first went out for softball, Brown was looking to play a sport where she could get more playing time and wasn't getting that satisfaction from basketball.
Milling experimented with Brown at second base before settling her into a starter's role at third base in her first year to play at SHS.
Brown moved across the diamond to first base when graduation caused a need for the Lady Jackets at that position.
It was Brown's willing to play anywhere needed that was a strength.
Milling is going to miss Brown's spirit.
"She's the one who is always up no matter if you yell and scream at her," Milling said. "Her spirit is always high. That's what is going to hurt us because we don't have a leader in that department anymore."
When it came time to pursue a career at the next level, Brown contacted MCC and Eakins brought her in for a tryout.
"I did a little homework on her," Eakins said. "She's a good kid and ready to work. We liked what we saw in terms of good fundamentals. If she comes in and works on that, she can step in and help us. We want kids who want to be in school, we want kids that are disciplined and she fits those criteria. I think our school is one of the best to get an education. She can help us and help herself educationally and athletically."
Eakins plans to play Brown at first base or use her in the designated player role with the Lady Eagles.
Brown was attracted to the Meridian softball program which isn't too far away from home and liked the fact her mom could come see her play.
"I liked the coach and recent players they have," Brown said. "They are really nice and easy to get along with. I'm just happy to be a Lady Eagle."