Marshall native and former ETBU softball standout Allison Ratcliff received a phone call with news that floored her.
“Janae Shirley, the head coach at ETBU, was my teammate while I was there playing,” Ratcliff said. “She called me one day after softball practice and she said, ‘Guess what’ and I said, ‘What?’ I was thinking she was calling me about going to a game or something like that but she said, ‘You’re being inducted into the hall of fame.’ I said, ‘No I’m not.’ She said, “Yeah you are. The committee picked you.’ So I immediately broke down into tears and was shocked. I kind of stayed that way for about a week, just the shock and surprise of getting that call. I immediately was very humbled because those years I played, I played with so many good people, one of them being Angela Gonzales who was inducted last year. So I extremely humbled because I mainly just hit.”
Ratcliff said there were many great memories created at ETBU that have stayed with her through the years.
“I wrote my speech last night and I wrote a couple of those moments down,” she explained. “One of them playing-wise was a game we played down at Louisiana College my sophomore year. We always played a double header and one game was 12 innings long and the other was 13 innings long and they were very tight, close games. In the first game, I had five at bats and three out of the five out bats, I struck out. The last time I struck out, I struck out on a pitch down the middle.
“My last at bat, I think we were down 2-1 or 3-2 or something like that,” Ratcliff continued. “It was late in the game and before I walked up to the batter’s box, Kent Reeves, who was my coach at that point, put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, he said, ‘Don’t worry about what has happened before. I have you in the four-whole for a reason because you can hit.’
“I remember the count was 2-1 and I knew she was going to try to pitch me outside and all I remember is making contact with the ball and running as fast as I can,” she added. “I’m looking up as I’m rounding second and I notice that nobody was throwing the ball in and at that point I realized I had hit a home run to put us up. As I was coming around third base, coach Reeves gave me a big high five and was grinning from ear to ear. All my teammates were at home plate, hitting me on the head and giving me high fives. That home run put us up and our pitchers pitched over 100 pitches each of those games and we held on to beat Louisiana College that first game and Angela Gonzales hit two home runs to help us win the second game. It was just an amazing double header against our arch rival.”
Ratcliff was at ETBU from the fall of 2003 until December 2006. Prior to that, she was a student at Marshall High School where she graduated in 2002.
I had great teachers,” Ratcliff said. “My school experience growing up in Marshall was awesome. I take pride in the fact that I can remember every single teacher’s name that I had from kindergarten to 12th grade.”
It was because of teachers and coaches she had growing up in school in Marshall and then later at ETBU that she is a teacher at Pine Tree Junior High and on the coaching staff for the Pine Tree High School softball team.
“Most kids dread junior high or have a bad experience in high school but I never did,” she said. “I didn’t have a bad experience the whole time. I got a great education. I was 31 or 34 out of 464 in my graduating class. I was in orchestra. I played the cello from sixth grade to 12th grade while being in athletics. We just had so many opportunities and I loved it. It’s made me a well-rounded individual and it helped me be prepared for anything I wanted to do. I didn’t feel like I wasn’t prepared for college at ETBU.”
Despite what some people might say, Ratcliff says this day isn’t about her.
“Everybody is saying, ‘It’s all about you,’ but to me, it’s really not about me,” she explained. “The things that have made me successful and continue to make me successful are the behaviors I’ve learned from other people, my mentors, learning how to work hard and how to have integrity because that was modeled for me.”
She said had she not attended ETBU, she wouldn’t have gotten to do some of the things she did in her hometown college.
“I was able to get there because of softball but I found my identity in Christ because softball led me there and I was able to go serve on two mission trips to China,” she said. “I was able to help with Katrina cleanups and eventually find my calling in life to be a teacher and a coach. I was able to play softball at the next level, which not a lot of people are able to do. Obviously, it turned out well. It opened up a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t go to ETBU.”
Joining Ratcliff in the HOF class will be 1999 Marshall High School graduate, Scott Verhalen, standout punter for the Mavericks who earned five All-American awards with ETBU, helping the Tigers win an American Southwest Conference championship in 2003. He helped his squad advance to the postseason for the first time in program history.