This fall, she will be going deep again — deep south.
Culberson, who is perhaps the most explosive power hitter in Greater Rome fastpitch history, signed a softball scholarship Thursday with Armstrong State, a Division II school in Savannah.
“I am real excited about going to school and playing at Armstrong,” said Culberson.
“When I visited there (in October) the girls on the team made me feel very comfortable, and I felt like it was the place for me,” she added. “But it is a long drive from here.”
And Culberson is certainly an authority on long drives.
Last season, she launched seven homers — none of which were of the “inside-the-park” variety. Instead, all seven were bona fide long balls, the kind that disappear over the wall and result in a slow trot around the bases.
“Coaches tell you not to think about hitting a home run while you are batting, but there are times when it is hard not to think about it, especially if you don’t like the (opposing) pitcher,” said Culberson with a big smile. “And it’s a great feeling when you get into one.”
Amazingly, Culberson had never “gone yard” until this season. But once she located the magic, she never slowed down.
She finished the season with a .428 batting average, and set a single-season school record with 26 RBI. In the process, she banged out 15 extra-base hits in just 62 at-bats.
“This season, Chelce really dedicated herself to becoming a great softball player,” said Coosa coach Jay Heap. “She really worked on her bat speed, and focused on putting a good swing on the ball in each at-bat.”
Culberson’s excellence on the diamond this season came naturally. Her father, Charles, was a professional baseball player (playing in the Giants and Royals organizations) and her uncle Calvin played with the Reds.
“The Culberson name has baseball in the bloodlines,” said Charlie Culberson. “And I am real happy that Chelce has decided to play softball in college. She has worked real hard this past season, and I think she knows she will have to work even harder to compete at the next level.”
In addition to being one of the area’s best softball players, Chelce is also a two-year starter on the Lady Eagles basketball team.
However, she said the decision to play softball in college came easily.
“I like basketball but I did not start playing it until my freshman year,” she said. “I have been playing softball all my life. So I pretty much knew all along that (softball) is what I wanted to do.”
Augusta State — which is coached by Marty McDaniel, who also helps coach the US Olympic team — is a member of the Peach Belt Conference. The team will make at least one visit to Marietta next season to play Kennesaw State