Warren Central softball player Kelsey Lockridge signs with Alcorn State

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

When she sat down to weigh her options to play college softball, Kelsey Lockridge went through the usual list of pros and cons — things like how she fit in, facilities, location and coaches.

One of the deciding factors was her driving ability.

“I had some other colleges, but I felt like Alcorn was my best pick. And it’s, like, 40 minutes away. I wanted to be close to my family just in case anything did happen. I didn’t want to go two or three hours away. And I’m not a good driver, so staying close is pretty good,” Lockridge said.

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And, just like that, Alcorn State picked up a pretty bad driver and a really good player.

Lockridge, the Warren Central catcher and reigning Vicksburg Post softball Player of the Year, signed with Alcorn last week. Although dozens of players have gone on to play at the state’s junior colleges, Lockridge is only the second player from Warren County to sign with a four-year program since the county’s high schools adopted fast-pitch softball as a varsity sport in 1999 — and the first to do it straight out of high school.

Former Vicksburg High pitcher Chandler Ellis signed with Mississippi Valley State in 2016, but spent two years at East Mississippi Community College first.

“It’s a big honor. I’ve been playing softball since seventh grade, so to be here in my 12th-grade year and progressing this much with a group of girls that I love, it’s amazing. Playing at a four-year college, that’s amazing,” Lockridge said.

Lockridge started her career at Vicksburg High, but transferred to Warren Central in 2016 and made an immediate impact. She hit .367 as a sophomore, and raised that to a team-best .478 in 2018 when she was the Post’s Player of the Year. She’s batting .500 (5-for-10) in four games early this season, with one home run, one double and five RBIs.

She has also played third base, first base and shortstop in addition to catcher, making her a versatile player that can fill in at several infield positions.

“I think colleges nowadays look for utility players, and people who can play every position just so they can fill every position with one player. So I feel that’s a big thing for me,” Lockridge said, adding she wasn’t sure where Alcorn coach Josef Rankin planned to use her in college. “I’m not sure. I’m not sure if he’s even sure. He’s just going to fit me in when I get down there and see what he needs. He’s a really good coach and I know I can fit in really good.”

More than anything, Lockridge is excited to have a chance at continuing her softball career.

“I’m really excited, honestly, because just playing at the next level is exciting, period. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, just to sign somewhere. So to sign with Alcorn, a school that I’m familiar with and know, is really good. I’m really happy,” she said. “I like their team dynamic. I like being a part of a team like at Warren Central, where we’re just a big family. I feel like at Alcorn I fit in. So I’m really excited about going there.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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