By Josh Troy
Machia Franklin transferred to Clarksdale High School three months prior to her upcoming graduation, and it was enough time for her to earn softball and cheerleading scholarships at Coahoma Community College. Franklin officially signed with CCC in front of family and friends in the Clarksdale High School library Wednesday morning. She bats left-handed and throws right-handed. She was a catcher for the Lady Wildcats but will be playing shortstop and third base for the Lady Tigers. She described her feeling “excited” about playing for CCC next season. “I felt it was the best option for me, and they’re a HBCU, and I’ve always wanted to go to an HBCU,” she said.
As a senior for the Lady Wildcats, Franklin’s batting average was around .400, and she helped her team finish second in Region 3-4A and did not allow any passed balls behind the plate. Franklin transferred from Cleveland Central High School just before the softball season. “At first, I was nervous to change to here, but when I got here, everyone welcomed me with open arms,” she said. “They didn’t make me feel like an outcast.”
When asked what team she would cheer for when Clarksdale and Cleveland Central play each other in athletics after graduation, Franklin said, “Clarksdale all the way,” and was met with huge applause from her Lady Wildcats teammates. Franklin also did gymnastics, competitive cheerleading, school cheerleading, played travel softball for the Lake Cormorant Tigers, and was an All-Star twice. She balances her time between academics and athletics, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Franklin credits her mother, Elaine Franklin, with being “a tough mom” and keeping her focused. Elaine Franklin said she keeps her daughter focused through “prayer” and makes sure she is where she needs to be at all times. She is happy with the way things turned out for her daughter at Clarksdale High School. “She ended up here with the Wildcats, and this became family to her,” Elaine Franklin said. Franklin’s father, Orlando Franklin, expressed similar sentiments. “I’m super proud of her,” Orlando Franklin said.
Franklin said her entire family was there for her through her high school career. “Everybody’s been supportive, making sure they come to my games and everything and just making sure I’m on top of my school work so I don’t fall behind,” she said.
Lady Wildcats Head Coach Nyjuria Johnson and Assistant Coach Marvin Pittman were both on hand as Franklin signed to play for CCC. “We enjoyed playing with her, and we enjoyed coaching her also,” Johnson said. “She did make us proud at every game, and we are proud of her.” Johnson counted on Franklin for leadership. “On and off the field, it was great,” Johnson said. “She always had them in check. She said do something and they came behind. She did great in leading the team also.”
Clarksdale High School Assistant Principal David Kelly knew Franklin before she transferred schools. “I just want to say it was a joy having her here at Clarksdale High School and her becoming a Wildcat,” Kelly said. “I’ve known her, her whole life. It was just a blessing for her to be able to come here.”
Teammates expressed their appreciation for Franklin. “It was beautiful to have her, to be able to work together,” said freshman pitcher Erin Cook. “Even though we did have our ups and downs, she was a great ballplayer. She is going to CCC, and she made us proud. She held the team together, and she was a good ballplayer.” Sophomore third baseman Jaidyn Johnson concurred. “Even though she was here for a very short time, she became very close to us,” Jaidyn Johnson said. “She always made us laugh. She always showed us that she cared about us.
When we were feeling down or something, she always came up to us, trying to make sure we were feeling great. She’s an overall great person. That’s even off the field. She’s a great friend, always checking on us, always texting making sure we’re good, and we just love her. We’re going to miss her.”
Family and friends at the signing said they would watch Franklin play at CCC.Franklin is expecting to make an immediate impact. “I feel like I’ll be a big impact to the team when I get there because I know how to play so many positions and I can help out all around, offensively and defensively,” she said.
Franklin is prepared to juggle her schedule with softball, being a cheerleader and student. “I feel like it will be a big change when I get to college because they’re a whole other level, but I think I’m going to be able to manage both of those,” she said.
Franklin said she hopes to continue her education at Ole Miss after CCC. If she is not able to attend Ole Miss, she said her backup choices are Mississippi State and Jackson State universities. Franklin read a prepared speech that was met with more applause as the signing concluded.
“First, I would like to start off by saying thank you,” she said. “Thank you for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for treating me as if you’ve known me my whole life. Thank you, Coach Johnson and Coach Pittman for allowing me to come and join the team. I’ve been here three months, but it feels like I’ve been here forever. These have been the best three months of my senior year. I’ve come so close to everyone in just a short time and I’m forever grateful for this opportunity. Clarksdale High School, you are my family. It’s a great day to be a Wildcat.”