After mulling over and turning down other options, Elkin graduate Cayley Shoemaker has decided to make Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga her next home for softball and school.
“This was a good fit,” Shoemaker said after her signing Monday at Calvary Baptist Church in Elkin.
Shoemaker, who intends to pursue a career in nursing, said TTU Head Coach Randy Crawford was a big reason she chose the school.
“The coach is down to earth,” she said. “I think he’s very easy to talk to. He’s not intimidating.”
Shoemaker said she was also happy to know that “he doesn’t make freshman sit the bench the first year.”
She said she wanted to thank her Elkin and Carolina Xtreme coaches, Billy Palmer and Steve Shaw; her mother, Christy Keaton; her grandmother, Diane Seagle; her grandfather, Bob Shaw; and her extended family for putting her in a position to succeed at softball and to play at the next level.
Palmer said Shoemaker, who was the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year, is “one of the best ballplayers I’ve had to come through. Glad to see where she is going. She’s worked hard for it. I’m really proud of her.”
Shoemaker, a leadoff, left-handed hitter who seemed to always get on base, handled the pitching duties as well for a team that went from two wins her sophomore year to 15 wins this past season.
“She is going to be missed; as a pitcher; as a lead-off batter,” Palmer said. “It will be tough not having her any more.
“This is what I’ve been working for for these girls. To go play college ball. She’s the first one.”
TTU is a three-year-old program. Assistant coach Nate Tompkins said the team is expected to “play with the best of them” over the next two years. The team, now in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), is looking into the possibility of moving to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in the near future.
Crawford said he and Tompkins brought her to the campus and “had her pitch and hit the cages. You could tell she was the real deal,” he said. “She’s what we were looking for.”
“It was a no-brainer for us,” Tompkins said. “She literally addressed every need in our book.
“She excels at everything we need her to excel at.”
“There’s all kind of possibilities with her,” Crawford said.
Shaw, who is also her uncle, said the family feels “safe about letting her go up there. We’re really excited,” he said, adding “it’s one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had.
“And it shows it can happen at Elkin High School.
“She’s put in the work for this,” he continued. “We’ve watched her from the time she was five.
“There’s not a kid who has worked harder for this moment than she has. “
Between her academics and softball, Shaw said that Shoemaker will receive what “amounts to a full ride” financially.
TTU, founded in 1946, has a student body of just under 500, with almost another 100 attending Temple Baptist Seminary on campus. It describes itself as a Christian-based liberal arts college. The school is about five-and-a-half hours from Elkin.
The team went 16-25 a year ago. You can follow Shoemaker and the Crusaders on Twitter at @TTUsoftball.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or Twitter @elkinareasports.