Sunday, October 25, 2020

Three MSU softball players grew up playing against each other in Georgia

October 2, 2016
Sophomore Bridgette Rainey, right, and sophomore catcher Jordan Davis walk to the dugout during the game against Broncos on March 29, 2016 at Secchia Softball Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Western Broncos, 12-2.
Sophomore Bridgette Rainey, right, and sophomore catcher Jordan Davis walk to the dugout during the game against Broncos on March 29, 2016 at Secchia Softball Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Western Broncos, 12-2. —
Photo by Emily Elconin | and Emily Elconin The State News

Of the three, the only player with Michigan ties is Rainey, who was born in Traverse City before she moved south. Growing up, Rainey was always an MSU supporter, so she said the move to East Lansing was just a natural one.

“I would always tell my parents, ‘I want to go back to Michigan State,’” Rainey said. “I joined the Vipers and got recruited, and this is where I ended up.”

While Rainey was born in Michigan, she said she forgot how cold the winters of Michigan are. But she did say it was all worth being at MSU in the end.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Rainey said. “It has lived up to every expectation. Even the hard days are so much easier because I’m here. It’s unbelievable.”

On the other end, though, is Watson, who said she chose MSU because of the family atmosphere it brings.

“I never really imagined me coming to Michigan State,” Watson said. “But when I came, the trees and the people around here reminded me of home. The coaches made me feel like part of a family, so that was the main reason.”

Echols had similar reasons for coming to MSU, but she said she got a warm boost from the coaching staff along with her teammates.

“I just liked the atmosphere of the team,” Echols said. “When I came on my visit, I just felt like this was the place to be. They told me they would keep me warm.”

While all three of the players played in the same club system, they weren’t all on the same team. Echols and Watson, the two underclassmen, shared a team, which often played against the older Rainey’s team.

Echols said when they were playing against Rainey’s team, there was a little bit of bad blood between the two. But now that she’s competing alongside Rainey, the transition has been much easier.

“(Back in Georgia) Bridgette’s team and our team just didn’t get along,” Echols said. “We became closer when we got to school.”

During their respective recruitment processes, the three said they didn’t talk to each other too much about coming to MSU. Rainey, however, said seeing some of her past opponents become her teammates has been quite the spectacle.

“Nobody knew what I was thinking when I decided to go to State,” Rainey said. “It’s just really cool to see that all the southern girls can hang up north.”

For now, the three Spartans will prepare for the spring season. Watson, a true freshman, hasn’t seen the field yet. However, her Viper and Spartan teammates have a solid amount of success.

Echols, during her freshman year, received national recognition by hitting .329 in 146 at-bats in a utility role for the Spartans.

Rainey, on the other hand, has the most experience out of three and has seen time in the Spartans’ rotation as a pitcher.

The Spartans will take on the University of Michigan on Thursday in an exhibition game at Secchia Softball Stadium. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.

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