Eagleville softball has been boosted this season by two of its youngest players.
Eighth-graders Brinli Bain and Addisyn Linton, both top-10 prospects in the 2025 class, have been welcome additions to a Lady Eagles squad that had won just 10 games over the last four years.
TSSAA rules permit eighth-graders to play varsity sports if they are enrolled at the same school as high school students. Eagleville is a K-12 school.
“It’s been exciting to play with everyone, and we’ve come together as a team,” Bain said. “We all go (well) together.”
The coaches who know them best aren’t surprised that Bain and Linton have taken over as the starting catcher and pitcher, respectively.
“I had all the confidence in the world that they could step in with the high school team and play with the best of them,” said Jay Ross, who coaches both girls on the Tennessee Mojo 2024 travel team.
“They’re wiser than their years.”
Bain and Linton didn’t wait until high school to inspire change within the Eagleville (8-3) program. Winning has quickly become the expectation in their first season with the team.
“I think we all have changed the way we play as a team,” Linton said. “The culture is changing with us coming up and playing as eighth graders.”
Eagleville coach Bridgette Sanders, who had both players in her English class last year, watched the newcomers take charge from the first day of practice. She said the eighth-graders have pushed the team’s upperclassmen to be better.
“They set the tone every day at practice,” Sanders said. “They’re not just good athletes, but they’re good leaders. You would never know that they were underclassmen if you just came and watched them at practice.”
Those impressive practice habits have turned into eye-popping numbers during games.
Bain, the No. 7 prospect in the country according to Extra Inning Softball, is batting .517 with 13 RBIs and two home runs, including a grand slam in a 19-2 win over Cornersville on March 24.
Linton, the No. 2 prospect, is hitting .461 with 11 RBIs and a home run. She also has a 7-2 record on the mound with a 2.33 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.
The two friends have an ongoing healthy competition, always trying to one-up each other.
“I think they’ve built a friendship on and off the field,” Ross said. “They challenge each other. If one does something a little better than the other, neither one of them really boasts about it, but the other one takes it personal and pushes to elevate their game.”
Bain and Linton don’t take many days off. Ross said the two players “drag their parents and coaches along when it’s time to go hit or field.”
“Every day it’s a grind,” Linton said. “Seven days a week.”
Eagleville has never advanced past the district tournament in program history. That could change in a big way this year, especially if Bain and Linton have something to say about it.
“If you ask the girls, it’s going to the (state) championship game and not just the state tournament,” Sanders said. “They kind of changed their tone. They want to win it.”
It certainly won’t be the last chance for Bain and Linton to capture hardware. Their high school careers are just getting started, after all.
And while college coaches can’t have direct contact with either until they’re juniors, Ross said high-level programs are interested in both Eagleville players.
“I think that they’re Power 5 kids,” Ross said. “I’m on the phone weekly with college coaches that are calling me, sending out their questionnaires and letting me know that (Bain and Linton) are on their radar.
“I fully anticipate both of those kids playing at the highest level. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see one or both of them competing in the College World Series in the next six years.”