Photo by Devin Grimes / MTSU Sidelines Archive
Blue Raider outfielder Precious Birdsong knew her name was going to be called on the afternoon of June 6 in the inaugural American Softball Association draft. The only thing Birdsong didn’t know was when she would hear her name called.
Jeff Breeden, the head coach of the Blue Raider softball team, first brought up the possibility of Birdsong getting drafted to her during the season, knowing that she would be highly sought after as a pro prospect.
“It was something that coach Breeden had brought to my attention during the season,” Birdsong said. “He told me that they had invited me to enter their draft. It was a decision that I went ahead and made after the great season we had.”
Becoming a pro prospect was only fitting for the senior out of Chattanooga after she led her team to the program’s first-ever C-USA Championship, as well as completely re-write the school’s softball record books. Birdsong broke the single-season record for runs with 50 and broke the record for runs in a career with 158. Birdsong etched her name at the top of the Blue Raider career record books by recording more hits (243) and more singles (207) than any other player in the history of the program.
With the numerous accolades that Birdsong accomplished in her four years at MTSU, it was all but certain she was going to play softball at the highest level.
Going into the ASBA draft, multiple mock drafts had the Blue Raider standout going 49th overall. Despite the experts claiming that she was a shoe-in to hear her name called, however, the anxiety of the waiting game took control of Birdsong on draft day.
“I saw a mock draft that had me going 49th overall,” Birdsong said. “So on the day of the draft, I’m very anxious, and I keep worrying about where I’m going to be drafted.”
After patiently waiting through five rounds and 23 picks, Birdsong got a pleasant surprise as she finally heard her name called 25 picks earlier than she was projected. She said that she was instantly overcome with emotion.
“I was literally sitting in my car watching (the draft), and I hear my name get called,” Birdsong said. “It was just such a surreal feeling. I kind of teared up a little bit. I’m just so blessed, and God has done so many great things. I can’t thank him enough. It’s just a great opportunity.”
Birdsong will now have the opportunity to continue her softball career with moh-BEEL! USA.
Not only will Birdsong be able to start a fresh professional career playing the sport she loves but will help grow the sport of softball as she participates in the inaugural season of the ASBA, a brand new professional league that is based in Alabama.
With the development of a new professional league, Birdsong knows that her performance in this league can help grow the sport regionally as well as on a national platform.
“I’m just going to go out and just enjoy myself,” Birdsong said. “It’s a professional league, and at this point, everyone is great and is just enjoying the sport they love and trying to get better at it. With this being the first season, we’re going to try to grow this league and make it one of the biggest.”
With the addition of a new professional league, the effects of its conception should have a positive impact on the game of college softball. More talented collegiate athletes will be given additional options on where to take their talents once their college careers end. Birdsong understands this better than anyone and is eager to help pave the way for other talented collegiate softball players to fulfill their dreams of playing the sport professionally.
“There is a huge amount of elite players that don’t necessarily get the opportunity to compete at the highest level,” Birdsong said. “With this league starting up, it’s going to give that percentage of players the opportunity to go ahead and continue their careers.”
However, ASBA’s biggest impact will be opening doors for players from mid-major schools to break into professional softball. America’s primary softball league, National Pro Fast-pitch (NPF), primarily take the best players from Power Five conference schools.
“Only a small percentage of players get to go (into NPF),” Birdsong said. “So, players like myself that are from mid-majors or schools not in the Power Five now have a chance to continue their careers.”
Birdsong was one of the winningest and most accomplished softball players to ever step foot on MTSU’s campus. She brought the school a C-USA Championship, a trip to the NCAA Tournament and became a ubiquitous name in the school’s record books. Now, she can become the face of a whole new league in a growing sport in the Southeast United States. The legacy of Birdsong will now begin a new chapter. This time, it will be as a trailblazer for a new brand of professional softball.
Follow Sidelines Assistant Sports Editor Elijah Campbell on Twitter at @E_Campbell3.
To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email firstname.lastname@example.org.