After 4 years, degree at UNA --
While the coronavirus threw a huge wet blanket on college and prep sports, one Wilson County native plans to make the best of the situation.
Recent University of North Alabama graduate Katie Eakes, a vital cog in Wilson Central's 2015 Class 3A state softball championship, has announced she plans to use her "bonus" season of eligibility and will transfer to Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City.
Eakes, the daughter of Stant and Wendy Eakes, has already earned an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at UNA and will use her fifth year to begin work on a Masters of Business at C-N.
"I can’t even begin to explain how happy I am for this opportunity," Eakes said. "Sometimes adversity comes into your life, and there are some situations that don’t go in your favor. Not everyone is going to be your biggest fan.
"However, God has His way of showing us blessings in disguise and I am very thankful for that. I am so excited excited for this journey to begin."
While at Wilson Central the left-handed slugger helped lead the Lady Wildcats to four consecutive District 9AAA titles (2013-2016), back-to-back Region 5AAA tournament crowns and the 2015 state championship.
As a senior Eakes hit .562 with 73 hits, 60 RBI, 23 doubles and eight home runs. She struck out just eight times in 150 plate appearances while her team finished 41-7-1.
Transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I and the Big South Conference, UNA was off to a 16-7 start when the coronavirus pandemic shut the season down.
Eakes was hitting .391 with a home run and six RBI.
As a Division II program in 2018, UNA finished 47-6 to win the Gulf South Conference tournament, then went 2-2 in the NCAA Region 2 tournament.
Carson-Newman is an NCAA Division II program playing in the Southern Athletic Conference.
The Eagles were off to a 14-4 start (4-0 in the SAC) when the season was shut down following games of April 12.