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May 7, 2014

Southern accent: Weeks signs with Eagles

TUNNEL HILL — Most high school athletes don’t receive athletic scholarships to an NCAA Division I school.

Then again, most high school athletes aren’t as good as Northwest Whitfield’s Macy Weeks.

The senior softball player signed with Georgia Southern University on Wednesday at Northwest and will head to Statesboro with hopes of leading the school to championships, just as she did with the Lady Bruins during her four seasons. In addition to her partial athletic scholarship, Weeks will receive academic grants.

A left fielder for the Lady Bruins, Weeks was a member of The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Softball Team each of the past three years and she was a second-team member of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s Class 4A All-State Team. She was also a big part of the reason why the Lady Bruins won back-to-back Class 4A state championships in 2012 and 2013 and claimed two Region 7-4A championships during the past four years.

“It was awesome,” Weeks said of the back-to-back state titles, “because teams from northwest Georgia don’t win state championships. Atlanta schools win state championships. Northwest Whitfield usually doesn’t.”

Northwest coach Jason Brooker labeled the outfielder a “five-tool” player — meaning she can hit for contact and power, has speed, possesses good glove skills and has better-than-average throwing strength.

Her stats from the 2013 season prove as much. She batted .376 with a .549 slugging percentage, four home runs, 40 RBIs and 16 steals. In the region tournament, she threw out a speedy River Ridge baserunner headed for third to help Northwest preserve a 2-1 lead and secure a place in the championship round.

More than anything, Brooker will remember Weeks’ personality. Brooker admired “the light she brought to the team” and “positive” attitude, but he also will remember her competitive fire on the field.

“It’s like a switch goes on,” Brooker said. “I want everyone to be like that. Once you get inside the lines, it should be different. You can be nice off the field, but when the game starts, you need that tenacity. She has it.”

Weeks joins teammates Bayli Cruse, a catcher who signed a scholarship with Tennessee Tech, and Ashley Conner, a shortstop who signed with University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, as the only three softball players in the class of 2014 from Murray or Whitfield counties to sign with Division I programs. Georgia Southern, which is competing in the Southern Conference this season, will join the Sun Belt Conference for the 2014-2015 school year. The Eagles are on the move because the school’s football team, which has enjoyed success as a Division I Football Championship Series member, is bumping up to the Football Bowl Series this season.

On the softball field, the Eagles have a 34-19 record and finished 15-6 in regular-season conference games in 2014. According to their team website, gseagles.com, they will play today in the second round of the conference tournament.

Last season, Georgia Southern won its second consecutive conference title and lost in the NCAA Regionals to South Florida.

More than anything, Weeks “just felt different” about Georgia Southern compared to other interested schools. She met coach Annie Smith at a softball camp, received an invitation to visit the campus and fell in love with the school atmosphere.

“I just liked her so much, and the campus was really pretty,” Weeks said. “I wanted somewhere I felt comfortable. I didn’t care if it was Division I or not. I just felt different when I went there.”

Weeks also was a significant part of Northwest’s girls basketball team, which reached the Class 4A state playoffs the past two seasons and reached the second round this year, winning a state tournament game for the first time since 2010. She made The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Girls Basketball Team this season and earned honorable mention her junior year.

“I love basketball,” she said. “It’s fun. I did it for fun, and I happened to be decent at it. I never thought about playing in college, though, until this year.”

Fortunately for Weeks and Georgia Southern, she’s also pretty good at softball, and she has fun playing that sport as well. With fond memories of being a Lady Bruin, she hopes to continue her approach on the diamond.

“I’m excited,” Weeks said, “but I’m going to miss my friends and the environment here.”

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