TJ Webster | Photo by: Wyatt Richardson

T.J. Webster Playing Women’s Professional Softball- Former Sparkman Athlete Trys The Professional Ranks

HARVEST- When T.J. Webster first began playing sports at age four at both Mt. Zion Baptist Church and nearby Phillips Park in Monrovia the idea of someday playing professional sports was more of a far-fetched dream than any thought of becoming reality for the two-sport athlete. Today, the 22-year old recent graduate of Western Kentucky University is aggressively living the unlikely scenario of playing women’s professional softball. She has signed on to play for the Chattanooga Steam in their inaugural season.

“I had never heard of this and it sounded like something I’d like to try,” said Webster. “There’s not much money involved as the league is just starting up and everyone wants to see how well the whole scenario will play out.”

The Steam is made up of a 16-player roster which features talent from all over the country including players from Power 5 college teams, some of which Webster indicated will be some of the best of the best. “I will have to fight for a position on the team as most likely I’ll be used as a utility player,” added Webster. “We’ll be playing at the home of UT-Chattanooga, a place I’m familiar with as I played a lot of travel softball there in my years and played there twice while with Western Kentucky. In a way, Chattanooga is another home for me.”

The Steam will host three others professional fastpitch teams on three occasions in Chattanooga. The dates for the home outings are June 19-22, June 24-29 and July 23-27. The team will also make trips to Oklahoma City, Bradenton, Fla. and Long Island, N.Y.

For Webster, her talents blossomed while attending Sparkman High where she was an All-Star softball and basketball player. For the Lady Senators’ hoops, she was a three-year starter and All-Area, and she led her squad to the Class 7A Final Four in her junior year. She averaged 9.1-points per game in her senior season and was part of 84 victories during her three-year tenure as a starter. “She is a phenomenal person. One of the best to graduate from Sparkman,” said Patrick Delay former head coach of Sparkman basketball of his former player.

On the softball diamond, again she was a three-year starter, a two-time All-State selection. She batted .440 with 171 runs and 102 stolen bases. She said, “My dad played softball and basketball when I was young, and I took a liking to sports because of him. I imitated my dad as he was a switch-hitter, so I began that way, too. I also took another of his attributes. His speed. Matter of fact, both of my parents played recreational sports.”

After high school, she earned a scholarship to Western Kentucky where she had a star-studded career of college athletics. As a junior, she was NFCA All-Region and named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. Her senior season was again a colossal outing as she led the conference in hitting (.405) and had 18 stolen bases, 21 base-on-balls, 64 hits with 12 RBIs and scored 38 runs. Her classroom work was just as rewarding earning the President’s List, Dean’s List and numerous Honor Roll accolades.

“I want to someday coach softball and/or get into sports administration in a collegiate level,” said Webster, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2022 and a master’s in Recreational and Sports Management earlier this year. “I came into college not knowing the possibility of extending my softball playing time. Due to COVID, I got that extra year and that allowed me to earn my master’s degree.”

The daughter of James and La’Tasha Webster, the 5-foot-4 sparkplug type of player is physically and mentally ready for her attempt at an unknown venture in her life. Her given names of Tatiasha and Jamese, both takeoffs of the names of her parents, led her to use the initials T.J. throughout high school and college where she won a State Championship as a freshman at Sparkman and advanced to the Conference Championship Game three out of four years at Western Kentucky. Once on the field with the Steam, she will lay claim to the first professional softball player from the community of Harvest and her beloved Sparkman High.

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