Hard Work propels Bell to next level


Wednesday was a big day for both Neera Bell and Kemper County High School.


For Bell, a recent transfer from Choctaw Central High School, it was a step toward her future as she signed a letter of intent to play softball for Holmes Community College next season. For KCHS, best known for its basketball and football prowess, it was a landmark moment to have an athlete sign a scholarship to play softball.


“(The signing) is going to turn around the whole thought process — No. 1, Kemper County is not known for softball,” said KCHS head softball coach Freddy Thomas. “When a girl comes here with the potential to go play at the next level in softball, that opens up the eyes of the rest of my team that there is potential for them. If they put in the work and follow her leadership they could end up at the next level.”


Bell’s primary position will be pitcher for the Lady Wildcats in the spring, but Bell said she’s willing to play anywhere and Thomas says he will be more than happy to accommodate those wishes.


“She’s a utility type player,” he said. “If she’s not pitching she can play anywhere on the field.”


When Bell signed with HCC she wasn’t headed into unfamiliar territory. She enjoyed her visit to the school’s campus in Goodman and is very familiar with Trae Embry, the school’s head softball coach.


While she was playing at Choctaw Central, he was coaching Neshoba Central to multiple MHSAA State Championships.


“I’ve played against him for many years and I’ve seen that he’s been a good coach, so I’m glad to playing for him next year,” Bell said. While she’s excited to be playing for Embry, the school itself also drew her in.


“When I went there on a visit it just felt like home,” she said. “I went to other campuses to visit and Holmes just felt like the place I needed to be.”


Bell is a multi-sport athlete and will spend time playing both guard positions for the Lady Wildcats basketball team at KCHS this season.


While he is just getting to know Bell, girls head basketball coach Ronnie Slaughter is extremely pleased with what he has seen from her in practice.


“I think she has great leadership skills,” Slaughter said. “They don’t always have to be verbal, it’s through her actions. Her body language is work, All she does is work. She stays extra to get shots — that’s a workhorse.”


Slaughter said he had no doubt that what he has seen out of her on the basketball court will help Bell when she begins her college softball career. “I think it’s her work ethic that will make her successful at the next level,” he said.

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