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Meredith Mitchell is preparing for the upcoming season at East Carolina University after playing last fall at Chattanooga State and winning the junior college national title. ECU is a Division I member of Conference USA in Greenville, North Carolina.
 

Attending and playing softball at a four-year college were part of Meredith Mitchell’s plans after Chattanooga State, but a move by her coaches sped up the process by a couple of years. Mitchell, a 2012 Sequatchie County High School graduate, is now preparing for the upcoming season at East Carolina University (ECU), a Division I member of Conference USA in Greenville, North Carolina. 

Mitchell, majoring in Nutrition, said her coaches were a big part of her move.

“I look up to this coaching staff so much,” Mitchell said of the group which includes head coach Beth Keylon-Randolph and assistant Steve Jaecks. “They’re like my second family. I know I can always count on them to push me and to make me a better person.” 

Mitchell began classes at Chattanooga State last fall following four strong seasons at Sequatchie County High School. After a successful fall exhibition season, which included games and wins against Division I programs, Mitchell and her Lady Tiger teammates were busy preparing to defend Chattanooga State’s 2012 junior college national title. 

In October, however, the East Carolina head coaching position opened up due to the dismissal of the coaching staff. Keylon-Randolph, with 602 wins at Chattanooga along with numerous national rankings and junior college national tournament appearances, was hired for the job. Among her decisions was to offer Mitchell the chance to play at ECU. Jaecks, a former Chattanooga State assistant, is now serving in the same capacity at East Carolina. 

“I love the school and campus,” Mitchell continued. “The girls on the team are all so nice.” 

The outfielder said early practices have been demanding but she has already come to expect “big things” out of the team. 

“I believe Coach Randolph can take our team a long way,” she said. “It’s always been a huge dream of mine to make the College World Series, and we have the potential to do it.“ 

Conference USA features a top-notch group of programs as four teams made the NCAA regionals last year. East Carolina was not among that group but the Lady Pirates won the league in 2010 and 2011. The team has seven starters returning from last year in addition to several newcomers, including Mitchell. The conference is in transition and several schools are expected to leave or enter in the coming seasons due to football-related realignment, but so far, ECU softball is scheduled to remain in Conference USA. 

At SCHS, Mitchell was one of the most productive players in the softball program’s successful history. She started four seasons, two in the outfield and two at shortstop, helping the Lady Indians to three sectional (top 16 in the state) appearances. Mitchell was All-District 7-AA four seasons and earned Chattanooga All-Area first or second team three of four seasons. 

As a senior, she hit .477, among the best in the Chattanooga/Southeast Tennessee area, and her 57 runs were first among the dozens of softball programs. Her eight triples tied for first and she also had 33 RBIs from her leadoff spot. 

Mitchell’s success carried over into the summer, where most of her recruitment took place. She helped the 18-under Chattanooga Mustangs to top 15 national tournament finishes in 2011 and 2012. Last summer she  batted .469 with 12 triples against top level pitchers, many now playing in college. 

Mitchell comes from an athletic background with several family members formerly or currently involved in sports. Her mother Stephanie Bettis Ewton helped SCHS win the school’s only team state title in 1990. Ewton was the pitcher on the state winning softball team which also had final four state appearances in 1989 and 1991. Ewton then went on to play at Chattanooga State.

Mitchell’s father, Dusty Mitchell, played baseball at SCHS and is a current youth sports coach. Her siblings include sister Madi Presto, an SCHS cheerleader and starter on the softball team last year;  brother Wyatt Presto, a member of the SCHS football team; Austin, Grace, Brody, and Cain Mitchell.



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