Photo from Mercer Athletics.
It is not uncommon for student athletes to transfer schools after one or two years, especially when that time is spent at a junior college where you graduate after two years anyway. What makes Lauren O’Dell’s case interesting is that she decided to transfer schools in the middle of her sophomore year at Shelton State Community College.
“When Mercer became an option, that was the only option for me,” O’Dell said about her decision.
O’Dell said she dealt with a lot of stress when having to make her move to Mercer, dealing with getting her transcripts in and getting all of her affairs in order.
“At a certain point in the school year for about a week I was really pulling my hair out,” she said.
The stress didn’t demotivate her from transferring to the school she said had been in her sights ever since she was pitching in high school for the Alexandria Valley Cubs.
O’Dell came at the right time to help out a Mercer softball team that was suffering setbacks in its pitching rotation due to injuries and the void left by last year’s graduated senior class, so they needed someone who could come in and without hesitation fill that void.
“She has an unbelievable competitiveness, work ethic and her ball moves really well,” Head Coach Stephanie Defeo said about O’Dell.
Pitching Coach Mollie Hanson was the one who scouted O’Dell. Defeo said Hanson did a lot of research on junior colleges which is where one would try to find a new player halfway through the year. Hanson is a former student from Shelton State, so it was one of the first places they looked for new talent.
Defeo said she has no doubt that O’Dell has been able to properly adapt from playing at a community college to playing at a D1 level school.
“It’s all about mentality,” Defeo said. “You definitely have to have the talent, but you also have to have the mentality to want to compete.”
O’Dell herself said she recognizes that the talent she faces at the D1 level is more than what she has previously experienced, but that it doesn’t phase her.
“It’s a little more faster paced than a junior college,” O’Dell said. “But I’ve found that the transition has been easier than I thought it would have been.”
O’Dell finished her 2017 season at Shelton with a 1.90 ERA and finished with 17 wins and 3 losses out of 26 mound appearances.
The team is still in the early part of their season, but if their first couple games are an accurate metric then they should look forward to a good showing this spring. As of Mar. 11, the team is 16-8.
O’Dell has pitched in five games so far this season, winning her starting pitching debut against Michigan State and two others against Florida A&M and Eastern Kentucky.