Morgan County High School catcher Maeson Tanner took the next step toward her future on Tuesday, June 9, signing her letter of intent to play ball at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“Maeson will be a great teammate,” said MCHS varsity softball coach Jason McBay. “She will encourage others through laughter, soft words and, when necessary, a little fire. She will hold her teammates accountable both on and off the field. No doubt she will be a great representative of God, her family, Morgan County and now Johnson University.”
Despite rainy conditions, a large group of Tanner’s family, coaches, former teammates and friends gathered under the pavilion by the concession stand near the MCHS softball field.
McBay shared what he has most enjoyed about coaching Tanner over the past four years before reading the words of his nomination letter for the Seth Stapleton Memorial Scholarship.
“Maeson is hands down the toughest, scrappiest player that I have ever coached,” McBay said. “As a catcher for our team, she has found ways to single handedly close out games whether it was throwing out runners or blocking a ball in the dirt. Maeson did whatever was necessary to win ball games. She didn’t work hard and give great effort for self glory; instead she did it for the love of the game and for her teammates.”
In the reading, McBay called on Tanner’s extreme dedication to her faith, sharing a memory of how Tanner insisted they come back from a summer softball trip early so she could teach vacation Bible school. McBay applauded Tanner for being comfortable with who she is, loyal and how she fights for those she loves.
“Don’t ever lose that,” McBay said. “Long after softball is gone, those are the kind of characteristics that are going to make a husband happy one day and you’re going to be one heck of a mom one day. So, continue to work hard and I can’t wait to see what you do.”
Tanner was not only a recipient of the Seth Stapleton Memorial Scholarship but also the team’s treasured Heart Award, mostly due to the fact that she played through an injury most of her senior season and never quit.
“Hopefully, the returning players paid close attention to what mental and physical toughness look like,” McBay said. “No. 99 was a great example of that.
McBay said he will miss Tanner’s sense of humor but, most of all, her grit. He said she always had a knack for pushing through when they needed her to. He said she “isn’t flashy but always gets the job done with humility and great appreciation for her team and coaches.”
An appreciation Tanner shared following her signing.
“In the midst of all the craziness going on in the world, and the crazy weather that took place [that night], I realized how much I meant to all these people,” Tanner said. “I’ll truly never be able to tell all these people in my life how much they mean to me and what they have done for me. No words will ever be able to describe it.”
Tanner said she has enjoyed being able to play ball with teammates and coaches she has known all her life and she will miss them the most. She said she loved how her MCHS teammates were so close, that they “were a family not a team” and she will cherish the memories made with them for a lifetime.
Tanner said what led her to pick Johnson University was that her church is involved with the school and a former travel teammate plays there. Her teammate talked her into visiting and trying out.
“I went up there and instantly fell in love with the campus, softball program and everyone I came in contact with,” Tanner said. “They embraced me, and while I’ll be leaving my family here I knew that I would be getting another new one.”
Tanner said she is most looking forward to meeting new people, furthering her career in a game she has loved her entire life and growing closer to the Lord as she continues to play for Him.
When asked what she would tell the team she is leaving behind at MCHS, Tanner said “no matter how the season goes and the challenges it may give, never take it for granted.”
She said if the past few months have taught her anything it’s to do everything like it’s the last time.
“Whether it’s stepping up to the plate, stealing a base, a pitch or fielding a ground ball, always do it like you may never again,” Tanner said. “Last but most importantly, never do anything for yourself and your pride, do it for the others girls standing by you and most importantly the man above. Keep your eyes on Him and mountains can be moved.”