Over the years, the Parklane Pioneers have made it a habit of producing stellar softball players who have moved on to play in college.
And just recently another Pioneer added her name to the list when pitcher Emma Roberts signed on to play for the Holmes Community College Bulldogs.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to play on the college level,” she said. “To get the opportunity to go to Holmes has been awesome.”
Roberts admits that prior to Holmes contacting her, she did not think she would get the chance to play college ball. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down much of the state, including community and junior colleges, Roberts was fortunate to get the opportunity to visit the campus in Goodman.
“I went on a visit and he (Head Coach Trae Embry) offered me right then,” she said. “I thought about it for a week and I signed my scholarship. It was unbelievable, I was so happy.”
One of the aspects that helped draw Roberts in was the tight-knit bond that the team has.
“They all seem like they are close, like a family,” she said. “When I went on a visit, (I noticed) they all hang out together and they are like a family. That is what stood out to me and I really enjoyed that.”
Roberts also enjoyed the campus when she visited adding that it was close together. In addition she was intrigued after touring the dorms adding that she will get her own room.
Roberts is also thankful for her time at Parklane and being a part of two state championship teams. She believes it was vital in getting her prepared for the level of competition she will face at Holmes.
“It was a lot of hard work, honestly, because Coach Greg (Gatlin) is a great coach and he pushed us to do our best,” she said. “And when I went in I tried to do my best.”
Last season, Roberts totaled 12 innings pitched with two starts and one save. But in addition to being a reliable option when called upon throughout her playing career, she was also noted for other attributes like setting a strong example.
“Leadership, work ethic, all of the things that I want to see each of our players exhibit, Emma has those qualities,” Gatlin said. “Those are the biggest attributes that she gave to the team.”
And even though Gatlin admits that making the move from high school to junior college can be a tough challenge he has the utmost confidence in Roberts, believing she will thrive.
“It is a tough transition for a high school player to jump up to high-level junior college,” he said. “There are certain things that have to happen. She has to hit her spots and do things like that. But if she continues to work like I know she has been and is now, I think that she has a bright future.”