Red Oak High School senior Stephanie Shelton, shortstop and four-year letterman for the Red Oak Hawks softball team, signed a letter of intent with Texarkana College, located in Texarkana, Texas, on Monday morning.

“I am very excited,” Shelton said. “We have a lot of players coming (to Texarkana College) next year. I’m excited to be a part of a winning tradition.”

The Texarkana bulldogs, members of the NJCAA, were Region XIV East Zone Conference Champions in 2004 and 2004, and Region XIV Champions in 2004.

“Stephanie is the type of player we want. She’s got a great arm and a great stick,” said Texarkana head softball coach Leslie Messina. “She comes from a lot of success. She’s going to be an integral part of our team next year — someone who should be able to step right in.”

“We’re very excited. We started with her playing T-ball when she was 5 and this is what we hoped would happen. Coach Messina has been following Stephanie since she was a junior,” said Shelton’s father, Gene Shelton, naming the fact that the school is only three hours away and that assistant coach Nicki Wilson also went through Texarkana’s softball program.

Messina said that Shelton will not be the first player she has coached who has played under Red Oak High School softball coach Johnny Jones, saying that Jones’ coaching produces well-rounded players in technique and conditioning.

“She’s the fourth player that I’ve had who has played under Coach Jones,” Messina said. “I’m excited to get a player of Stephanie’s caliber to be a part of our program.”

“Any signing day is a culmination of all the work you’ve put in. Stephanie works year round and this is her reward,” Jones said. “For me, it’s good that she leaves one good program to go to another.”

The day Shelton signed coincided with the first day of softball practice for the Hawks, and all of Shelton’s teammates were on hand to watch Shelton sign with Texarkana.

“For us, it shows that hard work pays off. This is living proof that if you work hard, it pays off,” Jones said. “It’s a great way to start the season.”

“Today is our first day of softball — it’s setting a positive mood for the ’07 season,” Shelton said.