GUYTON — Heated competition can produce boiling tempers and genuine disdain among frequent opponents. That’s not the effect it has on South Effingham assistant coach Shelby Wilson, however.
Testing her softball skills against familiar foes never prevented Wilson from developing warm relationships with them.
Wilson, though, has never encountered a situation like the one that awaits her Wednesday. She will sit in the visiting dugout at her old stomping grounds when the Lady Mustangs take on Effingham County at Rebel Field in Springfield. She was a four-time letter winner for the Lady Rebels.
“It’ll definitely be different ...” Wilson said. “I’m excited about it.”
Without trepidation, Wilson embraced the chance to coach at her alma mater’s biggest rival because she saw the overall big picture.
“I’m just proud of the county I came from and I want to give back to it,” the first-year coach said. “It’s a very close-knit county and always has been.”
Stiff competition always brought out the best in Wilson when she was a player. She recently wrapped up her final season at Georgia Southern with a .354 batting average, including eight doubles, eight homers and a team-high 37 RBI. The outfielder, a first-team Google Cloud/CoSIDA Academic All-American, also set a school record by reaching base in the Lady Eagles’ first 33 contests.
At Effingham County, Wilson earned all-state honors three times (2013-15) and was named the Region 3-AAAAAA Player of the Year twice.
“When I played (in high school), the Lady Mustangs were my favorite team to play because they were my friends,” Wilson said. “It was a fun rivalry. It’s always a fun one no matter what team you are on.”
Wilson’s mother, Lisa, isn’t convinced that the game will be fun this time.
“It’s going to be weird for Shelby and I haven’t decided if I’m going,” she joked. “I might sit smack dab in the middle and not move from that spot.”
Mrs. Wilson and her husband, Mike, have been fixtures at Effingham County games for years. Their daughter Bailee succeeded Shelby as Lady Rebels star.
Bailee, who also has many South Effingham friends, was named the region player of the year three times (2016-18) and will begin her college career at Georgia Southern next week.
Shelby isn’t taking her mother’s wavering and protestations about attending Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game very seriously.
“She’s going,” the new assistant coach said. “We love softball.”