|Watson taking her fastball to Central Arkansas|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 15, 2004 -- When Hollie Watson was learning how to fast pitch, her dad, Steve, would sit on a bucket and make her throw 100 strikes to him before calling it a day.
Steve still sits on the bucket and catches his daughter, but it's tougher now because the ball gets there so fast.
Hollie decided she will take her fastball to the University of Central Arkansas, signing a letter of intent Thursday morning with her parents, Steve and Mary Watson, and high school coach John McCullough, witnessing the event.
At Central Arkansas, Watson will join former SSHS teammate Megan Bell, who plays for the NCAA Division II school.
"I went down there and fell in love with the campus. It seemed like they have a good group of girls and good coaches," Watson said. "Megan Bell goes down there, and she was on our team last year, and she was a good leader. I figured it would be a good place for me, too.
"I'm going to go down there to work my way to be a pitcher for them. I hope it's going to be a challenge."
Watson has been a three-year starter for the Lady Cats, pitching and playing first base. She was a First Team All-District selection last year, and this season leads the team with a record of 11-2-1 and an ERA of 0.51. She averages over a strikeout per inning. At the plate, she is second on the team in doubles, RBIs and homeruns.
She attributes it to a lot of hard work, taking pitching lessons since she was 10 years old, joining a traveling team and playing virtually year-round.
"All that hard work was headed to a scholarship, this big reward of helping get college paid for. Of course, I was going to take advantage of it," she said. "It's definitely rewarding to hear a team of a higher level wants you to play for them."
At college, she will study to become a second-grade teacher. Her mother, Mary, is a teacher and coach at SS Middle School.
"We're very excited," Mrs. Watson said. "It's something she's worked toward for years. We actually went down there for the experience of trying out, but once we got down there, we knew this is where she wanted to go."
Watson is the third SSHS senior this year to sign a college letter. Melissa McSheffery has committed to St. Edward's University, and Savana Gibby will head to Texarkana College.
For Coach McCullough, Hollie's the sixth player in the last three years to take her talents to a college team.
"It's very exciting time for her to be finishing up a great high school career and then the anticipation of going to the next level and being able to play at the college level," McCullough said. "I think it's a great time for her and a good fit.
"We knew that Central Arkansas was going to be needing a pitcher. We had talked to their coaches, and Hollie went down there and tried out for her, and she really liked it. I'm excited, she's excited, everyone on the team's excited for her."