Two of the most reliable and best hitters for the Ridgeland softball team over the past few seasons will be joining forces again at the collegiate level.
Seniors Jenna Morgan and Cordasia Watkins officially signed letters of intent with Roane State Community College of Tennessee on Friday. The Raiders play in Division I, Region VII of the NJCAA and compete with Chattanooga State, Cleveland State and others.
"This day means a lot," said Morgan. "I've worked really hard to have this opportunity. I'm very thankful to everybody who's been involved for the past four years. It's just amazing and it feels great."
Morgan said she was also excited to get to continue to play alongside Watkins as the duo have been teammates since their days at Chattanooga Valley Middle School.
"We've been teammates for seven years now, so it will be really exciting to have somebody who's like my best friend there with me," she continued. "It'll make it easier and it should be a lot of fun."
Watkins said she debated about playing in college for a while, but is glad she took the opportunity.
"It feels good," she began. "I didn't always know that I wanted to go to college and play softball. It was always kind of iffy whether I didn't or whether I did, but I made the decision to go and play because I feel like I'll have more opportunities in life.
"I'm also glad I'll have Jenna with me. I won't have to go by myself and I'll have somebody that I know there with me."
Both were multi-sport standouts at Ridgeland.
Morgan was second team All-Region (7-AAAA) as a senior in 2021. She hit .450 with a double, a triple and a homerun, adding 11 RBI's and scoring 16 runs.
She also competed in several events on the track team, most notably the high jump and the discus. She is the school record holder in the discus and is the only Lady Panther to ever throw more than 100 feet (100-4).
Watkins, meanwhile, was a first team pick in 7-AAAA last fall as she batted .485 with seven doubles and five triples to go with 19 RBI's and 23 runs scored.
She was a Catoosa-Walker Dream Team honorable mention selection in basketball and a sprinter and thrower on the track team. She was the region champ in the shot put in 2022 and finished fifth at state with a school record of 36-4.5. Watkins was also a finalist for the 2022 Vonn Bell Award at Ridgeland.
Ridgeland softball coach Richie Wood had nothing but praise for his graduating seniors.
"Dasia was a starter and a staple of the team for four years," he began. "She's got speed and power and Roane State is getting one heck of a player in her. Jenna played for me for three years and she's just like Dasia. She's got an arm, she's got a great bat, she can play several positions and, again, they're getting another great player.
"The coach up there was really impressed with both of them when I took them up there for a tryout. She knew from the start she wanted both of them because she felt they can both make an impact on her team."
Morgan said she was impressed with the family atmosphere with the Raider program.
"It really is like a big family and the coach is just amazing," she said. "She grabbed my attention when I first met her because she is so goal-driven and that's something I really like. It was just perfect timing and the perfect place. There's amazing scenery around there and there's just lots of things to see, so I'm really excited about it.
"I think I'll be able to bring a lot of intensity, speed and good energy and that's what I always try to do. I try to be a leader and, hopefully, I can make a big impact on the program."
Watkins also said she liked the friendly vibe she got during the tryout.
"Everything was nice there," she said. "We went and had the tryout and one of the players was there with us. She didn't make us feel like we were upcoming freshmen. She made us feel comfortable about it.
"Hopefully I'm able to bring a lot (to their program). Maybe they'll teach me some things and maybe I'll teach them some things too, but, hopefully, I'll learn a lot when I get there."
Wood added that both players would leave huge shoes to fill.
"You don't replace them," he said. "They were very special players and I'll miss them greatly. They're kind of like my own daughters."
Morgan plans to study health sciences and one day wants to become a dietitian, while Watkins is leaning toward becoming an athletic trainer, but hasn't completely decided as of yet.