Alyssa Coppinger's wish has been to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and play softball, and apparently the Lady Mocs program wishes to have her. The Whitwell sophomore recently made a commitment to play for coach Frank Reed at UTC.
Coppinger is a shortstop for the Lady Tigers and tops them in virtually every offensive category. She plays center field on the Fury '97 select team coached by her father, Randy.
"I just know if I pass on an opportunity like this, somebody will take my spot," Coppinger said. "I know I'm going to work 10 times harder to make sure this is the right decision. I wanted to play college softball. I don't care where I play -- infield, outfield or running. I just want to help the team."
Coppinger said she's been to UTC several times.
"I love the coaching staff and how everything is set up there," she said. "And the school is just great. I love everything about it. I love UTC, and I've always wanted to go there. This is a dream come true for me."
Her .485 batting average, three triples, 10 doubles, 12 stolen bases and 24 runs scored are all team highs for the Lady Tigers, who are 12-9-2 and will be seeded second for the District 6-A tournament. She's second on the team with 15 RBIs, and that's from the leadoff spot.
"The girl gives 100 percent all the time, in practices and in games," said Whitwell coach Grace Pickett, who played for UTC. "We can be shagging balls or cleaning up, she gives 100 percent. She does a lot of work on her own time to get better. She's a coach's dream."
Coppinger will be joining two of her summer teammates -- Boyd-Buchanan's Halie Williamson and Greeneville's Jordan Fortel -- who earlier committed to UTC. The Fury won the ASA 14-under national tournament in 2012.
Coppinger also plays basketball at Whitwell and last season was selected most valuable player when the Lady Tigers won the Region 3 tournament. She said she plans to major in a health-related field.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.