Gaylesville’s Givens going to Talladega College to play softball

Gaylesville senior softball player Emma Givens signed a scholarship with Talladega College on Friday. Sitting from left is Jerry Givens, Kathy Givens, Emma Givens and Robin Moon. Standing from left is Gaylesville head softball coach Bob Smith, Gaylesville principal Terry Gilbreath and Gaylesville softball assistant Clay Joseph. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

GAYLESVILLE – Even though this is Clay Joseph’s first season on the Gaylesville softball staff, it hasn’t taken him long to figure out what kind of potential senior Emma Givens has.

“I remember telling (Gaylesville head coach) Bob (Smith) after a couple of practices, ‘This kid can play,’” Joseph recalled. “I’ve never seen a kid, whether it was the time I was playing or coaching, that can field a ball, that can read a ball like she can. Male of female, she can read a ball better than anybody I’ve ever seen. We’ve tweaked some things and worked on some stuff, especially hitting. We’ve made some adjustments here and there and she’s batted very well for us this year.”

After 14 games this season, Givens is batting .556 with seven doubles, three triples, two home runs, seven walks, 13 runs scored and 10 RBIs. She’s also been hit by four pitches and has only struck out once. She has a .667 on-base percentage, a 1.037 slugging percentage and a .950 fielding percentage.

“Emma’s got something a little bit different about her,” Joseph said. “We can be in a game, have two outs and she can have two strikes on her, but she can put one in left field and ring up a double.”

But Givens isn’t just all offense. She’s very versatile on defense. Mainly a catcher, Young and Lady Trojan head coach Bob Smith have experimented with Givens at other positions, mainly on the left side of the infield.

Talladega College has taken notice of Givens’ total package, and they like what they’ve seen. So much, in fact, they offered her an athletic scholarship. Givens signed with the Tornadoes on Friday afternoon.

“It’s really exciting,” Givens said. “I’m thankful I get the opportunity to do this.”

Givens gained that opportunity in part for her versatility.

“I like that I can play anywhere. It’s fun,” she said. “I like catching because, say I’m playing third base, I might not get a ball hit to me all night, but when you’re catching you’re involved in every play. You’re always doing something.”

“She would be an attractive recruit if I was recruiting players because she can play so many positions, but she’s really an outstanding catcher,” Smith said. “I knew she was a good catcher when I first started coaching her, but I didn’t realize how good of an infielder she was until late last year. We played her in the infield some out of necessity. She’s a really good third baseman. She’s a really good shortstop also.

“We’ve needed her to pitch some this year. That’s a work in progress because she really hasn’t pitched a whole lot, but I don’t believe there’s anything she couldn’t do if she worked hard enough at it.”

Although she’s excited to begin her new endeavor at Talladega College, Givens said it’s bittersweet.

“My teammates are really good people and I know I can always count on any of them any time I need anything,” she said. “We push each other and help each other. Me and Jayden (Dobbins) have played on the same team forever. We play travel ball together. It’s going to be sad not being able to play with my friends I grew up with, but I’m excited to continue playing.”

“She’s been a big part of this program,” Joseph said. “It’s going hurt losing her, but we look forward to what she’s got ahead of her. Going on to play for (Talladega College) Coach (Tonja) Braxton, I think with her knowledge and experience, Emma has the possibility to do anything.”

“We’re really excited about Emma getting the chance to keep playing, but we’re even more excited about the chance for her to get a degree,” Smith said.

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