West signing day

From left, West Lauderdale seniors Bradon Epting (Meridian Community College), Cade Kennedy (East Mississippi Community College), Dylan Brown (East Central Community College) and Emily Benthall (MCC) sign to continue their athletic careers during a ceremony Wednesday morning, Nov. 10, 2021, in West Lauderdale's gymnasium. Benthall signed to play soccer, while the other three signed for baseball.

West Lauderdale teammates Bradon Epting, Cade Kennedy and Dylan Brown grew up playing baseball together. 

After this coming spring, the trio will remain in East Mississippi but head to different community colleges to continue their respective careers, as Epting signed with Meridian Community College, Kennedy inked with East Mississippi Community College and Brown signed with East Central Community College. They were joined by senior soccer player Emily Benthall, who inked with MCC, in a signing ceremony Wednesday morning in the West Lauderdale gymnasium.

“Getting to compete against each other, it’ll definitely be exciting and fun to see who ends up on top,” Epting said.

Brown said he’s also looking forward to potentially going up against his fellow West Lauderdale seniors when East Central faces EMCC or MCC.

“I think it’ll be weird at first, but it’ll be fun to have new teammates and get to see the old guys on different teams,” Brown said. “It’ll be a challenge but fun at the same time.”

Kennedy said EMCC felt like a second home to him when he visited, and he’s looking forward to living in Scooba after he graduates from high school.

“It’s out in the country, and a lot of people don’t want to go and will say there’s nothing going on out there, but that’s more my style and the way I live,” Kennedy explained. “I have a camp house close to there, and I like the atmosphere and the coaches. I’m just really looking forward to it.”

MCC’s coaching staff sold Epting on spending the next two years following high school as an Eagle.

“The moment I started being recruited I felt like I was welcomed,” Epting said. “They’re a young staff and very energetic and upbeat, so I can relate to them a lot. It’s also close to home, so I can spend a couple of more years with my family. It’s a good academic school, which is what’s most important to me.”

When he met East Central baseball coach Neal Holliman, Brown said it was easy to be sold on becoming a Warrior.

“They’ve had a wonderful program, and I love Coach Holliman,” Brown said. “He was one of the first recruiters to come look at me and show interest. I think I’ll fit in well with their program.”

Like her baseball counterparts, Benthall was sold on her future head coach. In this case, it’s Mike Smith, with whom she has a previous relationship thanks to Smith’s involvement in local youth soccer.

“I like the coaches and the people at MCC, and the campus is really nice,” Benthall said. “Coach Mike is just a very nice person and easy to be around. He’s hard on us, but it comes from a place where you know he loves you and wants the best for you.”

Benthall also said she’s grateful for the opportunity to continue her soccer career after she graduates in May.

“Most of my friends aren’t playing next year, so just being able to go to the next level means a lot to me,” Benthall said.

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