By Trey Williams
Science Hill graduate Megan Maupin is good enough to play college softball, but she plays cornhole like a pro.
After concluding her career as a three-year starter with the Lady Hilltoppers in May, Maupin won the women’s and junior divisions of the Tennessee State cornhole tournament in June.
Not that it’s anything new; Maupin’s also won American Cornhole Organization tournaments in Rogersville, Bristol, Elizabethton and Kenansville, N.C.
“I actually wasn’t very good when I first started but I kept practicing,” Maupin said. “My dad (Kevin) built a set when I was like 14. I played a while and then quit a year or two and then got back into it.”
You would’ve thought Maupin’s dad had built a batting cage in the backyard. Maupin, with a sweet left-handed swing, was arguably Science Hill’s most effective batter during the past three seasons.
“She had nine strikeouts in three seasons with probably 350 at-bats and about a .380 career average,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said. “I’d say she had a pretty good career.”
Higgins still finds satisfaction in reliving Maupin’s nine-pitch walk against Volunteer power pitcher Morgan Marshall in the first round of the district tournament. Science Hill trailed 1-0 in the elimination game when Maupin led off the frame with a walk that ignited the game-winning rally.
“I’ll remember that one for a long time,” Higgins said. “That was a great at-bat. She fouled off I don’t know how many balls and drew the walk. Our season would’ve been over.
“I don’t think Morgan had pitched but one game in two or three weeks and her arm looked like it was feeling good. They went up 1-0 in the top of the seventh and I don’t think we’d had a runner past first base the whole game. She was shutting us down.”
Higgins would like to see Maupin continue her softball career at Walters State. He said Senators coach Larry Sauceman’s instruction with hitters and Maupin’s natural hitting ability would be an impressive combination.
“Sauceman really likes the way she swings the bat,” Higgins said. “I told him three times she can hit as well as anybody.”
But while Maupin would like to coach softball someday, she’s almost certain she doesn’t want to continue playing.
“I think I got burnt out on softball,” she said. “I started when I was four. I played tee-ball and then baseball until I was 12.”
Maupin got a Little League state tournament victory on the mound in Erwin for the Johnson City Nationals. She enjoyed playing for coaches such as Charlie Powell, Tom Matson and Marvin Harris.
Higgins wasn’t exactly blindsided by Maupin’s decision to quit softball. Science Hill had an extra 3-4 days after their tournament ended to enjoy Gulf Shores, Ala. this past spring.
“Before we left Megan asks if she can leave when we’re done (playing),” Higgins said. “I was like, ‘Why in the world would you want to leave? We’re in Gulf Shores, Alabama and we’re gonna have a good time.’ And she goes, ‘Well, there’s a cornhole tournament in Atlanta and my parents are gonna drive me up there to it.’ You’ve gotta be seriously into it if you’re gonna leave an all-expenses-paid trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama.”
Higgins has seen Maupin’s cornhole talent. She said she’s had 26 straight tosses go through the hole.
Such skill was on display when she blitzed Lady ‘Toppers assistant coach Anthony McInturff. A three-sport starter at Science Hill who signed to play football at North Carolina State with Monte Kiffin, McInturff is a respectable cornhole player with a competitive nature.
“She smoked Mac and Mac’s not bad at it,” Higgins said. “Mac threw a bag right in front of the hole and she slid out to the side a little bit and threw, like, four bags in a row that bounced off his bag and went through the hole. We started making fun of him, like, ‘We hope you ain’t betting money.’”
Maupin finished second at the event in Atlanta. Among others, she’s also competed in Lakeland, Fla., where she finished third, and Charleston, W.V.(seventh).
The World tournament is in Knoxville (July 26-30). Maupin won an entry fee with the state tournament title. The singles division pays $10,000. Maupin will enter it and the women’s division, which will pay out perhaps $2,000. Maupin and partner Spencer Crawford will probably enter a “Jack and Jill” tournament in North Carolina in August which pays out $1,000 to the winner.
“We do look at the payout before we go far to play,” Maupin said. “Me and Spencer won at the race (Bristol Motor Speedway) last year. It was a pretty big tournament. We won $500.
“I don’t think you could necessarily make a living because you never know when you’re gonna throw good or bad. But it is a good hobby.”
Maupin said many in the cornhole community are keeping T.J. Crawford in their thoughts. She said Crawford’s battling cancer.
“We love T.J. and we’re praying for him,” Maupin said.
Competition helps create a familial bond – especially with family. Maupin said her father and uncle, Shona Williams, are good competition. So are Elizabethton’s Cody Buck and Maupin’s former Science Hill teammate, Mia Edwardson, who delivered the game-tying hit two batters after Maupin’s dramatic walk in the win against Volunteer. Edwardson has even beaten Maupin a couple of times.
A rising junior, Edwardson is on pace to receive college offers. Higgins finds himself hoping Maupin’s offer still stands.
“I wish Megan would play softball,” Higgins said. “I’ve had so many girls over the years decide not to go and a couple of years later they’re beating their selves over the head. Megan’s already a good hitter and she has the hands and bat speed to hit bombs. … But I will say, in that cornhole business she’ll blow your mind throwing that thing.”