WHITE HALL — The Christian atmosphere and community of Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge was ultimately the deciding factor for White Hall senior catcher Madison Martin.
Martin, who also received offers from Lyon College in Batesville and Ecclesia College in Springdale, signed with Williams Saturday afternoon inside the Wings To Go in White Hall.
“I went to a camp and I just really loved Williams,” Martin said. “I told (head coach Eric Newell), I wanted to come for a tour.
“So I came and they offered a good amount. I really loved this school.”
Martin joins teammate Abby Weaver, who signed with Southern Arkansas in November, as an early signee.
Her coach, Terri Smith, said committing to a college before the season should relieve some of the pressure as the Lady Bulldogs eye another state championship.
“She doesn’t have anything to worry about,” Smith said. “She knows where she is going and she knows what she’s got as far as scholarships go.
“… I just think it helps a lot.”
Martin said Newell was one of the reasons she decided to go with Williams.
“He is a really sweet guy and he just seemed to really care and motivate his kids,” Martin said. “That’s what I really wanted in softball.”
Newell is in his eighth season as the head coach for the Lady Eagles. He has an overall record of 232-99.
Martin said she plans on majoring in Early Childhood Education and minor in Spanish.
“She is a very hard worker and she has worked hard to get where she is at,” Smith said. “She was behind a couple of other catchers before she stepped up to take the roll and she worked her tail off to get there.”
Smith said, “Hopefully she will have somebody to take her spot for us next year.”
Martin is part of a senior class that has won back-to-back state championships, including last year’s win over Greenbrier.
“That helps a lot,” Smith said. “It gives them some confidence, although we do have a couple of big shoes to fill (points to former player Rachel Box).
“I think we will handle it pretty well I hope.”
Martin finished last season with a .210 batting average with 10 RBIs and an on base percentage of .283.