SYLVANIA — They’ve been a part of four playoff teams at Screven County, advancing to the Elite Eight of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs three times, but now it’s time for Marla Thompson, Tiffany Burns and Rochelle Schuman to go play at the next level.
Wednesday, Thompson signed a letter of intent to play softball for Georgia Southern, and Burns and Schuman inked with North Georgia.
North Georgia went 51-2 in 2010 and advanced to the Division II College World Series.
“I’ve been doing fast-pitch softball for 24 years, and this is the first time in my life I’ve seen one school send three kids to the NCAA at one time,” said Jeff Rainwater, who coached all three athletes on the Georgia Thunder travel team, about Screven’s softball success. “We’re talking about a tiny school in the middle of nowhere. [Schuman and Burns] are going to the top Division II school in the nation to play for the No. 1 college coach in the nation, and Marla’s going to play Division I. That just doesn’t happen every day.”
All three have been playing since they were freshmen for Screven coach Billy Pollock.
“Over the years of coaching you learn to let go,” said Pollock about the graduation of the seniors. “I know they’ll be back to update me on their progress.”
Burns wasn’t sure she’d have a chance at playing college softball before North Georgia showed interest, and now she and Schuman will head north together.
“I was getting scared because I didn’t know if anybody really wanted me, but I just kept working hard and it paid off,” said Burns. “I’m nervous and excited. I can’t wait to get up there and have the chance to compete for a spot to play.”
“That’s definitely one of the best things about this,” added Schuman about joining her teammate. “We get to go together. I’m really excited about it, and nervous, of course.”
Thompson, the Gamecock’s No. 1 pitcher all four years, will be right up the road in Statesboro playing for the Eagles. That should draw a crowd.
“I hope so,” Thompson said. “I’ve got some people saying they’re going to come, but we’ll see when the season starts.”