There was a buzz on social media throughout the area on Thursday and it wasn’t just parents sharing snapshots of their kids in back-to-school pictures.
Mississippi State softball was making waves by announcing a new scholarship player within the program.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 37-27 season and the first ever NCAA Super Regional appearance in school history.
Brookhaven High graduate native Kat Wallace was a manager on that team. In June, she answered an early summer video call from one of her coaches.
When Wallace picked up the call, the entire Mississippi State coaching staff was there looking at her. MSU head coach Samantah Ricketts told Wallace that she was offering her a scholarship for the 2023 season — not as a manger though — but as a player on the team.
Thursday, the announcement became official with a release from the school. The news was reshared on Instagram stories and Facebook posts as Wallace is a young woman who’s loved by anyone that knows her.
Many of those reshares had some version of the hashtag #twocheeks attached to the messages.
Living the #twocheeks lifestyle means putting your whole rear into whatever you’re doing, but not like an Instagram model — it’s all about giving your best effort instead.
Her mom Allison helped coin the term when Kat was a seventh-grader starting on the varsity softball team at Brookhaven High for coach Mandy Vinson.
“I was a lot smaller than all the other girls and according to my mom, I’d get visibly discouraged when I made an error or had a bad at-bat,” said Wallace. “She coined the term ‘two cheeks’ as a way to encourage and refocus me. It’s become a sort of mantra that I try to live out in all areas of my life.”
Wallace signed with Jones College after her career at BHS ended. Her freshman season was cut short by COVID-19 and in her sophomore season she captained a JC team to a national runner-up appearance to end the season.
She could have gone on and played at several different four-year schools on levels below the top of the NCAA, Division I softball.
Wallace is a serious student who wants to be a coach and math teacher on day. She decided to go to Mississippi State, but her competitive drive pushed her to join MSU softball as a manager.
Whether it be catching bullpens for pitchers that needed to put in work or loading equipment on the team bus, Wallace put her whole behind in every task given to her by the MSU coaching staff.
Their collective praise of her contributions to the program is enough to make the heart of anyone that knows Wallace burst with pride.
“We are excited to announce the addition of Kat Wallace to the roster and know she will represent Mississippi State with the same class, work ethic and loyalty as she did this past season for us,” said MSU head coach Samantha Ricketts in a release by the school. “Kat has been exceptional since day one. She’s been the ultimate teammate to our support staff and willing to do whatever she could to help the program. We’re excited to add her to the roster and know she will represent Mississippi State with the same class, work ethic and loyalty as she did this past season for us.”
Wallace grew up a Mississippi State fan and her ascension to the roster is the realization of a childhood dream, one that she never even knew possible.
“I guess coming to Mississippi State I really didn’t know what doors were going to open for me or what my life was going to look like,” said Wallace in a feature story posted on the MSU athletics website. “I decided that I was going to work hard and do good and see what might happen.”
The math major came up with her own formula to realize that dream.
Two cheeks plus Mississippi State softball equals Kat Wallace on the field wearing maroon and white in 2023.
Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached via email at email@example.com