Nichols earns MVP in All Star softball game

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Manchester Academy senior Merrell Nichols recently participated in the MAIS A-AA All-Star Game, where she was named Most Valuable Player.

Merrell, the daughter of Chris and Tiffany Nichols, was one of many high ranking players from across the state named in the MAIS All-Star Game. Assigned to the white team, she was also the only player from Manchester to participate in the game.

"It's a well-deserved honor," said Manchester Academy Headmaster Bryan Dendy. "She earned it.  She is an outstanding athlete and an outstanding young lady."

Nichols said that she was very surprised to be named, but was very excited about the opportunity.

The athletes met for only two practices before the game, and were invited to a luncheon in their honor, celebrating their achievements for the season. 

Nichols said that each athlete from each team was recognized and given a certificate to mark the occasion.

After the luncheon, Nichols only had a few hours to prepare for the game that afternoon.

By 4 p.m. she was warmed up and ready to play.

Nichols said that the 2-hour game went by fast and that she played pitcher for 5 innings in the 8 1/2 inning game.

The final score of the MAIS All-Star game led the blue team to win over the white team 5 - 1.

Nichols said the overall atmosphere of the game was about having fun and making memories.

"There was no pressure or anything," Nichols said. "It was the last game for most of us to play, so we just wanted to have fun and were really supportive of each other.  I loved meeting all of the new people and making new friends.  It was just a really awesome experience."

Nichols got an even bigger surprise at the end of the game when she was named sole recipient of the White team's Most Valuable Player Award.

"I didn't think I was going to get it," she said. "They called my name as I was going back to the dugout so I was very surprised."

Nichols said that most of her family and close friends came to watch her play for the very last time.

"I'm just very proud of her," said her father Chris. "She has had a tremendous career, and I'm just glad to see her get honored this way."

Going forward, Nichols said that she won't have much time for softball, as she will be focused on pursuing a degree in the medical field.

"I want to be a doctor," she said. "So I am going to be really focusing on that."

Nichols said that she is thankful for all of the coaches who have helped her over the years, especially Tracy Paul for helping her with pitching.

She also said that she couldn't have made it through the season without the support of her teammates at Manchester Academy.

"I just want to say thanks to all of them for playing with me and picking me up this season," Nichols said. "My advice to them is to just take it all in because it all goes by really fast."