Chelsea senior athletes to play at next level

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

CHELSEA – It might have been a day later than most other schools, but the moment was no less special at Chelsea High School on Thursday, Feb. 8, when three student-athletes signed on the dotted line to make the dream of becoming a collegiate athlete a reality.

In front of a packed out auditorium full of family and friends Madison Martin, Brendon Case and Riley Watkins all got the honor of signing their letter of intent to play sports at the next level.

Martin, a member of the girls soccer team, will be headed to Louisiana State University (LSU), while Case and Watkins, both members of the baseball team, are headed to Georgia State University and Itawamba Community College, respectively.

“This is a day of achievement for all of our signees,” athletic director and head baseball coach Michael Stallings said. “They put in a lot of time and effort into a goal of playing sports past the high school level and for that we are very proud of them.”

Martin has had an incredible career with the Chelsea Hornets’ girls soccer team, including helping lead the team to its second state championship in school history during the 2017 season.

She anchored a defensive back line that picked up four shutouts in five playoff games last year, including shutouts in both the semifinal game the championship game. The incredible season led to her being named to the Shelby County Reporter All-County team.

Case and Watkins have also had storied careers for the Chelsea Hornets and led the team on an incredible ride to the quarterfinals of the Class 6A baseball playoffs in 2017 when nobody expected them to come close to that.

After a strong start to the 2017 season, Case was one of the Hornets’ top pitchers, but an injury forced him to miss the second half of the season.

He was still able to put up gaudy numbers for Chelsea in his time on the mound posting a 2-3 record with an ERA of .963, while tossing 40 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched.

Watkins was named as an honorable mention player on last year’s All-County baseball team after putting together a 5-5 record on the mound and posting an ERA of 2.301 with a team-high 63 strikeouts in 48.2 innings pitched.

The signing of the athletes was not just a moment to reflect on all of their accomplishments through the years, but the sacrifices their parents made to make sure these athletes had the opportunity to be in this situation.

“I know their coaches and teammates are proud of them, but I know their parents are even more proud,” Stallings said. “As coaches we are only with them for a short amount of time, but as parents they get to experience the entire ride with them.”

Stallings also challenged the athletes before wrapping up his words of wisdom.

“I want to challenge you to be a great leader for your team, both in your final season here at Chelsea, but also in the future,” Stallings said. “Your teammates and your legacy will be remembered by how well of a teammate you are and that’s an important challenge I want to put on you.”

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com