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November 16, 2012

ACA's Dare signs with Crimson Tide

TUSCALOOSA | Chandler Dare isn't used to waiting when it comes to softball.

The American Christian Academy senior joined an 18-and-over travel team when she was just 14 years old and earned a starting job in her first game, staying in the lineup ever since.

When the University of Alabama offered her a scholarship - "It was Nov. 8th, when I was in 10th grade," she said - she accepted immediately.

Since then, she has had to learn to wait. The first long wait ended Tuesday when she finally signed that scholarship with Alabama at a ceremony at the ACA gymnasium in front of classmates, teammates and family. The next wait will end in the fall, when she enrolls at UA, and next spring, when her freshman season begins.

Dare's teammate Rachel Skelton will also go on to play college softball. Skelton signed with Stillman College.

Other schools, including Virginia Tech, Tennessee, UCLA, Missouri and Michigan State, continued to contact Dare after she committed so early to Alabama.

"I never once re-thought it," she said. "This is where I've wanted to go my whole life."

Dare, a Moundville resident, attended her first Alabama softball camp when she was 8. She plays her high school home games less than 2 miles from UA's Rhodes Stadium.

"It's beyond exciting," she said. "It's a dream come true that all this is happening. I remember growing up thinking I wanted to play for Alabama."

A 5-foot-3 leadoff hitter who bats left-handed, Dare can slap, bunt and swing away. She hit an eye-opening .672 last season as a junior with 32 RBIs, four home runs, nine triples and six doubles while stealing 43 bases.

"She's one of the hardest workers on the team," ACA coach Billy White said. "She can play several positions. You can't teach speed, and she's the fastest player I've ever coached."

Dare has played shortstop for the Patriots and in the outfield for her travel team, but doesn't care where she plays at UA.

"Anywhere they put me," she said. "Mainly I play outfield, but if they want me at third base I'll play third base and if they want me at catcher I'll catch.

"I'm just going to have to keep working hard and giving all I've got. I'm going to do my best to get a position out there on the field. Everybody is competing and it's the top softball program in the country."

Dare also has another season to play at ACA, and a goal to fulfill.

"We've never accomplished it, but we made it to the second day at state (last season) for the first time since I've been here," she said. "My goal is still to win a softball state championship. I'm really excited to play my senior season with our senior class at ACA."

So is Skelton, who plays right field for the Patriots, but signing with a rising Stillman program coached by Pam Phillips was a fulfilling offseason moment.

"I choose Stillman because I thought it would be a good place to play," she said. "I know some players on the team and I really like the coach.

"It's a big deal. It's exciting."

Said White, "She usually hits second in our lineup and either slaps or hits for power. She can really run the bases."

Skelton batted .381 for ACA as a junior with 13 RBIs and two home runs to go with three doubles. She stole 14 bases.





Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.


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