Sherrell Matthews

Wetumpka native Sherrell Matthews, who pitches for Autauga Academy, was selected for the MLB Softball Breakthrough Series, which begins Thursday.

Only 60 softball players throughout the country are selected for the MLB Softball Breakthrough Series, and only one of them this year is from Alabama. That one is from right here in Elmore County.

For the second year in a row, the Elite Pitching Academy in Wetumpka will be represented by one of its own at one of the top softball showcases of the season. Sherrell Matthews, who currently attends Autauga Academy and lives in Wetumpka, was the only Alabaman selected for this year’s series.

“That feels really good (to represent my state),” Matthews said. “I found out from (Elite owner) Krystle (Wilson-Lawson) and I was really excited. I was hugging my dad like crazy when I first found out.”

According to its website, the Softball Breakthrough Series “focuses on developing players on and off the field through seminar, mentorship, gameplay, scout evaluation, video coverage and the highest level of instruction.”

Last year, Elite Pitching Academy was represented by Holtville native Paisley Wilson, who received instruction from former Olympians, and Wilson-Lawson is expecting Matthews to get more of that.

“This is a good scouting tool for her,” Wilson-Lawson said. “Obviously it’s going to put her name out there and it’s going to draw her attention even more. It’s good for her to train with them and learn new things, and when you’re out there, the connections are there.”

Matthews is a pitcher, first baseman and heavy hitter for the Generals. Prior to starting at Autauga Academy, Matthews spent time playing for both Holtville and Stanhope Elmore. She also has been with Elite for five years and was actually Wilson-Lawson’s first lesson.

Although she said her screwball and her curveball are her top pitches, Matthews is excited to get to the Breakthrough Series, which begins Thursday in Kansas City, to learn even more.

“I just want to learn new things and see how softball works in different cities,” Matthews said. “I want to learn some new pitches, and I need to work on my movement. I think my movement is good but I want it to be great.” 

While Wilson-Lawson knows Matthews can learn a lot technically, she is also hoping her student will have a chance to strengthen her mental game.

“I think she’s sitting in a really good spot, but if they can tweak this or tweak that and get everything working perfect, that would be working great,” Wilson-Lawson said. “But more than that, I want them to inspire her and to have even more drive, to say instead of practicing three days a week, she’s going to practice four days a week to improve her game. I want her to grow mentally and learn from some of the best players in the game.”

Another hope for Matthews at the camp is to get some attention from college coaches. In addition to being a development camp, the 60 players will also be divided to play in real game situations against each other. Matthews said she has had several college scouts looking at her but hasn’t gotten any offers yet, and perhaps this showcase can push her over the edge.

“I hope it takes her to the next level with recruiting and getting to a bigger school,” Wilson-Lawson said. “She has a lot of schools looking at her, and maybe this will help seal the deal.” 

Matthews said, “I am blessed to even have them looking at me but I haven’t had any offers yet. I just hope it helps me get seen more.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.