BONHAM — Don’t expect to see any difference in Bonham senior Mackenzie Downs in the future when she’s playing softball.
Even with a full scholarship to Southern Arkansas in hand, her approach won’t change.
“It doesn’t affect me,” Downs said. “I will still need to work hard and act like colleges are there watching me.”
Downs signed her letter of intent with SAU on Tuesday afternoon in the Bonham High School library in front of teammates, coaches, parents, friends and other well wishers. She will pitch and be a middle infielder for the Lady Muleriders.
“It’s definitely awesome. I feel that hard work has paid off,” said Downs, noting 10 years of effort. “I’m excited to play at the next level.”
Downs’ three years on the varsity roster have coincided with unprecedented times for Bonham softball. Last spring, the Lady Warriors advanced for the second-straight season — and first time in consecutive years — to the regional quarterfinals — where the program has been only four times during its 23-year existence — before falling to eventual state champion Krum in three games.
Bonham, which has made nine-consecutive postseason trips, qualified for the playoffs as a tri-champion of 11-4A with Celina and Aubrey, after winning its previous different district alignment outright in 2016.
Downs won the 12-4A Most Valuable Player award in 2016, in between garnering district pitching superlatives. She has also received all-state notoriety from the Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Sports Writers Association.
She has 752 strikeouts, a 2.64 earned run average in 518 innings and 68 wins for Bonham. She has posted a .548 slugging percentage, .432 on-base-percentage and .388 batting average, scoring 99 runs, driving in 79 and hitting 30 doubles.
“She’s put in the time in and out of school,” Bonham head coach Micky Englutt said. “I’m proud she will be receiving an education with a full scholarship and will get to continue to get to play.”
“Since she has stepped in, I think we have 90 wins and 30 losses in the three years. We have been successful over the years, but she brings the talent to make late season runs late into the playoffs. Teams with those players can do that.”
By choosing SAU, Downs will following in the footsteps of a couple of other area standouts this decade: Sam Rayburn sisters Maddie and Abbie Dow.
“I’ve seen from social media they are having a great time,” said Downs. “I’m close enough to them that I’ll know I’ll have a part of home with me there.”