Since she was a little girl playing T-ball with the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation and Leisure Services, Mary Beth Blasingame has dreamed of the day she might play college ball.
Her wait is over.
The 18-year-old Thomson High School graduate recently accepted a partial athletic scholarship to play fast-pitch softball at Middle Georgia College in Cochran. She's hoping to do well her freshman season, so that she might be in line for a full scholarship next season.
Blasingame was a pitcher and outfielder during her four-year career at Thomson High School. Her junior and senior seasons were the most impressive.
During her senior season, Blasingame, daughter of Ben and Janie Blasingame of Thomson, recorded 12 wins and six losses on the mound. She also had one save and pitched a total of 83.2 innings, allowing 65 hits. In addition, she struck out 83 batters and gave up 30 walks.
"I'm so excited about getting the chance to play college softball," Blasingame said during an interview last Thursday. "I love playing this game so much. I love it because it takes my mind off of everything else. Another reason is because it's so exciting.
In both her junior and senior seasons, Blasingame played under THS Head Coach Jason Osborn, who tabbed her the team's number one pitcher in the starting lineup.
"She did a heck of a job for us," said Coach Osborn. "We're going to miss her, but we all wish her the very best on the next level."
During her freshman and sophomore years, she played for Lisa Cody, former head coach of the Lady Bulldogs' softball program at Thomson High School.
"I can't wait to start college and begin softball practice," said Blasingame. "I've been hoping for a chance to play college ball since I was a little girl. I just really love playing the game. It's exciting."
When growing up, she began playing T-ball and then moved up to the pitching machine, playing with boys, ages 7 and 8. For two years, she played with girls' teams, ages 9 and 10 - again with the use of the pitching machine.
Once she became a seventh grader at Thomson Middle School, Blasingame, whose sister, Sarah plays fast-pitch softball at Thomson High School, joined a traveling softball team in Martinez to sharpen her skills at the sport she enjoys so much.
She played with the Georgia Rockers for three years and the Augusta Flash for two years - even through high school.
One of the people she credits with helping her become as good as she is at pitching is Jenni Brush-Kuntzi - a star softball pitcher at Augusta State University and at the College of Charleston.
"She's helped me the most when it comes to pitching," said Blasingame. "She inspired me. She's a terrific teacher and my best friend."
In addition to having played softball during high school, Blasingame also played soccer for three years as a mid-fielder.
She says her mother and father, as well as her grandparents, Bruce and Lora Blasingame, of Thomson and Mattie McMillan and the late John McMillan, of Newton, Mississippi, have supported her in her quest to become a softball player on the college level.
"They have all helped to keep me focused on what I wanted to do and to see that my dreams of playing ball in college someday could come true, if I worked hard," said Blasingame.
She also pays tribute to the players she's played with and competed against over the years, saying, "They actually helped me play better. Many of them were like a second family to me."
Blasingame now joins two other former Thomson High School players who are playing on college softball teams: Nikita Taylor, who plays at Paine College in Augusta and Terra Rayford, who plays at Fort Valley State College.