April 1, 2014

Prep softball: N. Murray’s Silvers heads to Covenant

By Devin Golden

— In just about every part of the recruiting process, Covenant College did a little extra to show its interest in Sarah Silvers.

It spoke volumes to the North Murray High School softball player.

Silvers chose Covenant College over other collegiate softball programs and celebrated the decision last week at her high school in Chatsworth. Since Covenant is an NCAA Division III school, it cannot offer athletic scholarships, but Silvers will receive an academic scholarship covering more than half of her tuition to the private school in Lookout Mountain.

“I had a lot of other coaches and colleges email me and talk to me about it,” the switch hitter said, “but they were the first ones to make a really personal connection.”

Whatever Lady Scots head coach Sara Russell did to convince Silvers, it worked. Silvers said the interest started at a travel ball tournament in Chattanooga. A member of the Force Elite 18U squad, coach Thomas Wilcox convinced Silvers to attend the event although it conflicted with North Murray’s senior night.

Silvers is glad she listened.

“(Russell) is absolutely amazing,” she said. “She is a phenomenal person. She inspires more than her team but the whole student body.”

In the middle of its 2014 schedule, Covenant College is 10-20 and 3-15 in the Great South Athletic Conference. Currently coaching her sixth season at Covenant, Russell led the Lady Scots to a program-record 22 wins in 2011, the National Christian College Athletic Association Mid-East Region title and a trip to the NCCAA National Tournament.

An outfielder this past season as the Lady Mountaineers finished runners-up to Ringgold in Region 5-3A and reached the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs, Silvers has one of the most coveted traits in sports — speed. She can fly down the baseline to beat out a ground ball or turn a double into a single.

“She’s very quick on the base paths and in the outfield,” North Murray coach Steve Granger said. “Left to right and front to back, she’s about as quick as anyone.

“I think when they saw her play, that’s what they were intrigued by.”

While Silvers hit .247 during this high school season, she tied for the team lead in sacrifice bunts (13) and has around a .300 batting average with her travel ball squad.

Aside from her quickness, she also has a lot of versatility with experience at multiple positions. She played catcher her freshman season at Dalton High School before moving to middle infield spots her sophomore year with the Lady Catamounts. She transferred to North Murray for her junior year and moved to left field.

“They needed some speed in the outfield,” Silvers said, noting she’s not sure where she’ll play in college. “I’m a team player and I’ll do whatever the team needs.”

When it came to selecting a college, though, she was understandably specific. She received interest from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and Carson Newman in Jefferson City, Tenn. She wants to study pre-law, which Covenant offers, with a minor in political science. And when she visited Covenant earlier this year, weather threatened to ruin the entire day. However, Silvers again felt she wasn’t another recruit.

“It was rainy and muggy that day and I wanted to see the softball field,” Silvers said. “(Coach Russell) went out of her way to show us the field and where we were playing. She gave us more tours than the tour guide gave.

“They didn’t treat me like a number. They treated me like a person. It was really sweet, because college coaches are the busiest, I’m sure.”