|Bell contines production at UCA|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
May 26, 2004 -- Moving to an out-of-state college where she didn't know anyone, SSHS graduate Maegan Bell didn't change who she was.
That was good enough for the University of Central Arkansas.
Bell, a freshman second baseman for the UCA softball team, was named the Co-Freshman of the Year in the West Division of the Gulf South Conference recently and was a Second Team All-GSC selection.
She graduated from SSHS in 2003 after a stand-out career and found herself competing as a true freshman for the starting second base spot against a junior. She said it was somewhat "intimidating," but she decided to continue to be the same type player she was in high school.
"Fitting in on the team was easier than I thought it was going to be. We only had one senior," she explained. "At times, I felt a little intimidated because I was a freshman. But, coming from Sulphur Springs and being a leader, I didn't want to to stop doing that, so I just went ahead. If I thought something should be done a certain way, I went ahead and spoke my mind.
"I had to compete for my spot at second. Coach put me in the outfield, too, but I didn't want to be there because I'd never played in the outfield before. I worked hard to be at second. It was a little intimidating competing for a junior for my spot, but I was able to win the position."
And, she produced when there.
She hit .307 and stole 35-of-37 bases to set a school and conference record for stolen bases in a season. Still, she considers defense to be her strong suit.
"Defense has always been my favorite thing to do on the field. I love practice just because of that," Bell explained. "Defense has always been my favorite, probably because Coach McCullough drilled it in us so much."
While there were a couple of pitchers who Bell acknowledged she had trouble hitting, she said the level of competition was about what she expected. Playing at the elite level in which Sulphur Springs competed during her high school days allowed her to adjust easily to the college game.
Still, there were some adjustments, such as fitting in on a team where she was the newcomer.
"Getting used to new teammates was probably the biggest adjustments. On the high school team, I grew up with all those girls," she said. "But, coming in with girls I never met before and adjusting to their style of play was hard at first. But, it got better as the season went on.
"The other thing was new coaches. I loved Coach McCullough in high school. He's a great coach, and I had to adjust to new coaching."
She is not playing softball this summer since she plays all school year. Instead, she's lifting weights, running and keeping in shape so she won't suffer burn out during softball season.
Next season, she will be joined by former teammate Hollie Watson, an SSHS graduating senior who will be a pitcher for UCA.
"Softball is something you have to love to do to play in college. It's not just fun and games all the time, it's like a job," Bell said. "But, I love it."