By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett two-sport standout Mackenzie Baldwin will continue her athletic career in college by playing softball at Tennessee Wesleyan.
Baldwin signed with TW, an NAIA program in Athens, last week.
“I really loved the atmosphere at TW,” Baldwin said. “It was very homey and I love the people there. They are very welcoming. Coach (Toby) Brooks and Coach (Leah) Thompson are amazing coaches and I can’t wait to be a part of their team. I did have some other options that I had considered but I was just not as attracted to them as Tennessee Wesleyan.”
Baldwin lost her junior season to the coronavirus pandemic after being named All-Big Seven Conference as a freshman and sophomore. She has a career batting average of .372 with 10 home runs and a .935 fielding percentage.
Baldwin has played third base and shortstop for the Pioneers.
“She can play anywhere – middle infield, third base,” Crockett Coach Carla Weems said. “From what I understand, Tennessee Wesleyan saw her play a lot at third this summer. She’s got really quick hands. I’ll probably put her on third. She catches the ball and is able to get rid of it really fast.”
Weems expected Baldwin to come of age really fast on the diamond, and she responded.
“One of the moments that I always remember most as being a Pioneer was my freshman year when we were playing Dobyns-Bennett in the district tournament,” Baldwin said. “I hadn’t been hot. I was 0-for-3 and Coach Weems moved me up in the lineup and I was thinking to myself, ‘Why would she do that? This is a close game.’ Sydney Fox was up and took the first pitch yard (hit a home run) and I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to follow that.’ And then I got up there and took a deep breath, then I swung at the first pitch and it went straight over center field fence.
“As a player for any sport, confidence is key. If you have confidence in yourself you can do anything, and as I have gotten older, I have realized there is no need to not have confidence in yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
Crockett basketball coach Thomas Gouge said Baldwin could have played college basketball.
“Mackenzie is a coach’s dream,” Gouge said. “She’s an exceptional athlete that can play multiple positions and does whatever is best for her team. She could have played basketball or softball at the collegiate level and she chose softball. It’s very rare to find athletes that can choose what sport they want to play in college.”
Baldwin credited a number of family members and coaches in helping her achieve her dream.
“My family has always given me confidence and courage even on my bad days,” Baldwin said, “but my dad, for one, has always been my No. 1 fan and coach. We do butt heads a lot, but he knows my potential and has pushed me to be my best.
“I also owe credit to all these coaches, basketball and softball: Tony Gordon, Jerry Day, Carla Weems, Thomas Gouge, Terry Burger, Micah Voiles, Dusty Frost, Michael Wolfe. They all have been with me and helped me pursue this dream of mine. But mainly I give all the glory to God, He is the one who gave me the talent and I thank Him every day.”
Baldwin expects the Pioneers to make up for lost time this season on the diamond. She said a talented roster with four returning seniors is capable of a great deal of success.
And when the season is over – well, she’ll officially be a college softball player.
“I have wanted to play college softball ever since I was a little girl,” Baldwin said, “and I am now getting to do it.”