Softball standout earns scholarship

Published 10:00 am Monday, March 31, 2014

It’s not often that a home-schooled student makes a mark on the athletic world, but that’s exactly what one local girl has accomplished.

Picayune’s Jessie Penton, who has attended Goss Road Home School for seven years, recently signed a softball scholarship with Southwest Community College. This despite her never having played ball for a prep team in her career.

“It’s exciting, I don’t think you hear of many home schooled students getting scholarships in sports, mostly academics,” the 17-year-old Penton said. I’ve always wanted to play college softball. I just think it’s really cool how things worked out.”

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Penton’s process began seven years ago, when she was adopted by Sandra and Herb Lane.

“One of the first things I did was sign her up for softball,” Sandra Lane said. “She started taking pitching lessons from coach (Shea Jonson) and really enjoyed it. It was something she really dedicated herself to.”

After a few years of mound instruction, the family lost touch with Johnson. During those years, however, he moved from Slidell and became an assistant coach with the softball team at Southwest Community College in Summit.

Penton has been a member of the Southern Pride for several years. Southern Pride is a select, travel team based in South Mississippi. Last summer, as the team was playing in a tournament in Gulfport, the former pitching coach and Penton’s paths crossed once again.

“He saw Jessie play and was immediately interested,” Sandra Lane added. “He approached us about her signing with Southwest.”

Penton, who plays mostly in the infield now, is looking forward to getting started with her college career in the near future.

“It’s going be kind of weird to begin with,” Penton, whose teacher at Goss is Shannon McCormick, said. “I have been in one class with about 15 students and the same teacher everyday for most of my life. And just being there with all of the students and a big campus and so many different classrooms is going to be very different.”

In addition, being part of an organized team on a day-to-day basis will be something new for Penton also.

“The players on Southern Pride are from all over South Mississippi, so we never really got the chance to practice every day like most teams do,” she added. “So that will be a little strange as well, but it’s something I am really looking forward to.”