Near the middle of last December, Madison Barnett officially signed her letter of intent, confirming that she would continue her softball career at Lee University.
Barnett was the first of two Tullahoma High School athletes who committed to extending their athletic careers at Lee University. In early April, Julia Duncan announced that she would join the Lady Flames’ women’s basketball team.
According to Barnett, she didn’t think much about her future school early on into the recruiting process. However, her mom, Natasha, recommended that she attend a pitching camp that the university softball team was hosting. It wasn’t long after camp that she realized that Lee University was where she wanted to be.
“After many prospect camps and tours I realized that Lee felt like home,” Barnett said. “It has the most down to earth people and has the best environment to be. Lee is one of those places you could never get tired of. I also really loved the idea of going to a school that was not only going to push me academically and athletically, but push me in my faith as well.”
During that camp, Barnett garnered the attention of the Lady Flames coaches. According to Emily Russell, Lee University softball coach, she then started keeping tabs on the Tullahoma left-handed pitcher.
“She’s a competitor,” Russell said. “I’ve seen her throw for a couple of different travel teams and different coaches and I was impressed by her ability against a variety of teams in a variety of situations to just be a solid, quiet leader. She has that kind of ability and presence that is good for a team, calmness and everything.”
As a junior, Barnett put together a 7-6 record with a 2.66 ERA for Tullahoma. In 79 innings pitched, she allowed just 30 earned runs and 23 walks, while striking out 54 batters.
Like several athletes across the country, Barnett’s senior season was short, only lasting two games amidst COVID-19 concerns. Tullahoma played just two games this year, winning both.
Barnett got the start in both of those contests for the Lady Wildcats this past year. In those two games, she surrendered just four earned runs, for an ERA of 2, while striking out 21 batters and a walk. Twelve of those strikeouts came in the Lady Wildcats’ season opening win at Columbia.
According to Barnett, she is continuing to stay in shape. She said she’s been workout and training based on recommendations from coaches at Lee University, as well as her physical education instructors at THS.
The current global pandemic, also had an effect on the Lee University softball team. The Lady Flames halted their season in early March with a 13-10.
After seeing their seasons cut short, spring sport athletes are now allowed to return for another year to their respective schools, should they choose. According to Russell, several of her players have opted to return, including one of her pitchers. With that veteran experience returning, she said that it will do wonders for Barnett and her team next season.
“Now, we’ll be able to have one of our pitchers back,” Russell said. “But it’ll just give all of our pitchers a little bit more breathing room to get comfortable and be successful early on by just having an upperclassmen there.”
Looking ahead to the fall semester, Barnett said she can’t wait to attend Lee University. She said she plans attending the occupational therapy program and plans to major in exercise science with a minor in psychology.
“I’m most looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life and to have a fresh start, with new people and a new atmosphere,” Barnett said. “I’m looking forward to getting to play ball for Coach Russell and her team as well.”
While she can’t wait to attend Lee University, Barnett also said she will always cherish her time in Tullahoma. Specifically, she said that most of memories will come from the softball field.
“It has truly shown me that not all family is blood but family can be anyone who you share similar likening with and you can build a connection,” Barnett said. “This team is truly family and it will be hard for me to say goodbye. One of my most favorite memories is the bond that I have built with our players and coaches. I know that may be a broad memory but all of the smaller memories have come because of the amazing people I have been able to spend 90 percent of my time with in my four years of high school.”