Since she was young, Coffee County's Lauren Tomberlin had always hoped to get the chance to play college softball. This past season, Tomberlin lived that dream as a member of the Motlow State Community College Lady Bucks.
While she has decided not to return to the team for her second year, Tomberlin said her freshman season was a memorable experience.
"It was great. It was more than I had ever expected it to be," Tomberlin said. "It turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made."
A talented player during her time with the Central High School Lady Raiders, Tomberlin was not sure if the college game was still a path for her following a shoulder surgery after her junior year.
As a result of the surgery, she decided to focus more on her academic future her senior year. After her initial college plans did not look like they would come to fruition, Motlow came in with an opportunity to play softball.
"My plans as far as a four-year university didn't quite work out," Tomberlin said. "Thankfully they didn't because right after I figured out that I wasn't gonna be able to go to the school I'd wanted to go to, I got a call from Motlow and it all just fell into place."
Tomberlin was a catcher for most of the season, with some time on first base as well. She also played third base in the fall.
While Tomberlin spent a lot of time behind the plate, she said the most growth in her game actually came at the plate.
"The offensive side of my game definitely improved this past year," Tomberlin said. "Compared to my senior year and junior year in high school."
Outside of playing, her freshman season with the Lady Bucks was highlighted by the chemistry she had with her teammates. They helped her to adapt to the college level and the demand that comes with it.
"The chemistry with the girls, the team, was one of the best teams I've ever been a part of," Tomberlin explained. "Obviously it's totally different than high school ball, a lot more demanding, but the girls and the team is really what made it all worth it."
Ultimately, the importance of academics outweighed the importance of softball. Tomberlin decided to leave the team after her freshman year to focus on her schoolwork.
Tomberlin plans to major in biochemistry when she transfers to a four-year school. After she completes her undergraduate degree, her goal is to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon.
"School was definitely more demanding than softball," Tomberlin said. "It got to the point where my heart just wanted to be a doctor more than it wanted to be a softball player."
Even though she will not be with the Lady Bucks this year, Tomberlin has no regrets over her decision to play. She plans to stay at Motlow and hopes that since she will not be a student-athlete, it will be easier for her to go to CHS games next season.
Tomberlin was also appreciative of the life lessons she learned as a member of the team. The time management and prioritization skills she picked up are ones she plans to utilize as she continues to reach her career goals.
Most of all, Tomberlin was thankful that the Lady Bucks gave her the chance to experience college-level softball as a player with countless memories to treasure.
"I don't know that I have a moment that stuck out more than any other moment because all of them were just outstanding," Tomberlin said. "It makes the little four-year-old girl in me proud to know that I made it that far."