McInturff, Robinson share in juco crown7:39 am | June 4, 2012
The month of May 2012 will long be remembered for a pair of local former high school softball players. Kat and Kadey “did” something that players dream about during their athletic careers. Chattanooga State’s Kat McInturff and Kadey Robinson will soon be wearing rings after their Lady Tigers captured the National Junior College softball championship last week in Utah.
The former Ranger and Cyclone standouts arrived back on Thursday after a 4-1 over the Salt Lake Lady Bruins in the title game.
It’s been quite a ride for the two since their playing days here at their respective schools.
“It’s really different playing at the college level,” said McInturff. “There is a whole lot more people you deal with and a whole lot more work you have to do as a student-athlete. We had 6 a.m. workouts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday all year long. You get up, practice, straight to class then back to practice. You’re there to 5 or 6 p.m., then you eat and study. Coach teaches us time management. You have to be disciplined. Winning the national championship is a reward for all that. It’s not all set in just yet as to what we’ve accomplished, but it will in a few weeks.
In addition to the national championship, the Lady Tigers also amassed a 65-5 record on the season. Robinson too feels like that’s a testament to the time and effort that each player has sacrificed to accomplish this feat.
“It’s crazy because last year we didn’t make it into the tournament,” said Robinson. “We just busted our butts and worked hard from fall to spring. We all felt like we had a shot to win the whole thing because this is really a good softball team. I’ve learned so much playing down here. We beat so many big D-1 schools during the fall. That felt just about as great as winning the championship.”
The Lady Tigers boast one of the top junior college programs in the country each season. The trips that both girls have made are a far ride from the stops they made while playing high school in the Tri-Cities.
“We’ve been to Vegas twice, Florida four or five times and several other states,” added McInturff. “I never realized that I would be going to all these places. Las Vegas was a beautiful city with the lights and all. Winning there in Utah made it so much more special.”
That type of championship program will certainly open some doors later down the road for both players. Robinson graduated after a two-year stint there. McIntuff hopes to be the starting catcher for the Lady Tigers next season.
“Our pitcher is going to LSU next season,” stated McInturff. “Coach tries her hardest to get everyone an opportunity to play somewhere. I learned so much about what it takes to play at a high level down here.
“I’ve learned time management and how to take advantage of any opportunity given. For me it’s been a lot of learning and a lot of maturing. I was the second-string catcher and I caught every day in practice. Everybody on our team had a role. Nobody was just there.”
Robinson hopes that playing at such a high level will open some doors for her. She has an opportunity to walk on at ETSU. For now, it’s all a waiting game.
“Coach Randolph wanted us to focus on the season, so I’m just now starting to look at some schools,” said Robinson. “I want to play somewhere. I don’t care if it’s D-1, D-2 or NAIA. I just want to play. Most of my visits will come during the summer. It’s all a wait-and-see thing. I just want a chance to play.”
McInturff said that having Robinson there made the transition from high school to college so much easier for her.
“We’ve been friends for five years and it meant a lot having her here,” added McInturff. “We lean on each other and we push one another.”
“She’s my best friend and winning the championship with her has made it so much more special,” she said of McInturff. “We’re inseparable. She text me several times after we got back home on Thursday. I’m really going to miss having her as a teammate next season.
Only time will tell if the two join forces again after McInturff finishes her final JUCO season next year.
“She’ll do well as their starting catcher next season,” said Robinson about McInturff. “When I’m older, I want to be a softball coach. Playing here has not only prepared me for softball, but also for a lot of things in life. I think that Chattanooga State was the perfect fit for both of us.”