Autauga Academy pitcher Sherrell Matthews signed a letter of intent to play softball at Grambling State University, where her sister D’Maria is the ace pitcher for the Tigers.
“It feels like home,” Matthews said, but certainly her decision to participate in summer camps at Grambling the past few years was influenced by her sister’s presence. D’Maria, a former pitcher at Stanhope Elmore, compiled a 6-15 record her first two seasons at Grambling before emerging last season as the team’s ace, where she was 9-10 with an earned-run average of 5.17.
Sherrell Matthews started her career at Holtville High and then Stanhope Elmore before coming to Autauga Academy. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during volleyball and is midway through a six-month rehabilitation period.
She earned a scholarship offer this past summer from first-year coach Nakeya Hall.
“I went to their camps because it felt like home to me,” Matthews said. “They had a different coach the first two years I went there but now they have a new coach and I got noticed this year.”
Matthews is part of a second group of recruits signed by Hall, the former Alabama A&M coach, in her effort to turn around the Tigers’ program. Grambling’s softball program hasn’t had a winning record in Southwestern Athletic Conference play since 2009 and hasn’t made the SWAC Tournament since 2015, but stumbled to a 3-27 record in 2016, 13-32 in 2017 and 11-29 in 2018, forcing the firing of veteran coach Wilbert Early.
Hall had moderate success in 2019 as her 16-23 record was the best in a decade and her 4-12 SWAC record was the best since 2015. To transition to the collegiate level and make an impact, Matthews knows her first impression to the batter is just as important as her first impression to her new coach.
“I need to work more on my first pitch being a strike,” she said.