BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Before Victoria Tyler signed a softball scholarship with Alcorn State at St. Patrick High School Wednesday, she was reminded by her team just how solid of a teammate she is.
Tyler and pitcher Sabrina Turner, who signed to play softball with Mississippi State, are the only two seniors on the 2015 Lady Irish team that is hoping to pick up the school's fourth consecutive championship at the 3A softball level. Turner was one of many of Tyler's teammates, friends and family members to give a speech at the signing Wednesday.
Their head coach, Tommy Castanedo, planned on using a flavorful metaphor to Tyler's importance to the team. While holding a bag of Pop Rocks candy, Castanedo called her the "rock" of the team because she is easily coachable, a respectful teammate, as well as mentally and physically strong.
"Before practices, we usually have a quote of the day or a definition of a word," Castanedo said to the crowd. "When I think of a rock, I think of something formidable that you can build a house on. That's what I think about Victoria."
If you're unfamiliar with Pop Rocks, they turn into a crackling, jumping candy once you begin to eat them. Whether that was a reason Castanedo ate half the bag before the signing ceremony, it's certainly understandable that Tyler made a leap of her own -- switching her commitment from Pearl River Community College to Alcorn State, which is a Division I-AA member.
"I went on a visit and fell in love with the campus and the coach," Tyler said. "I really had to give coach [Leigh] White at Pearl River a call and let her know I had this bigger offer from a Division 1 school -- a four-year college. It would just be easier to go straight to a 4-year rather than transferring for my junior year."
Besides being called the team's "rock," there's another endearing term that the St. Patrick cornerstone hears frequently.
"It really meant a lot to hear everyone saying 'She's a team mom,' which they always call me that together," Tyler said jokingly. "I get so aggravated because I'm not a mom but I know that being that big of a part, that big of a role for the team, it just means a lot to hear that come from them."
St. Patrick is 18-1-1 this season and can clinch the region 8-3A title with a win over Seminary Thursday.