Tennessee Mojo Pitcher Emerson Aiken Finds Her Place At Michigan

The first time Emerson Aiken picked up a ball she wanted to prove a point. The boys in the neighborhood didn’t believe she could throw, catch, or hit. Her motivation for excelling in softball revealed at an early age that she was an independent thinker and loved a good challenge. 

Growing up just outside of Richmond, Virginia, Emerson was invited to pitch for the Tennessee Mojo who was scheduled to play at D9 Sun Classic Fall Showcase. Local folks were quick to voice their criticisms of her decision to play for a team in another state but Emerson firmly believed in what was best for her. 


A few years back when she was an eighth-grader, Emerson was enveloped in the frenzy of early recruiting. She played on a very talented team and was attracting plenty of attention from college coaches.

“She was getting full-ride offers,” mom, Crystal Aiken remembered. “It was a little hard to watch. She had an offer pulled because she hadn't made a decision in one year's time.” 

With sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade verbal commitments publicized over social media, it created an illusion of scarcity and stress for many families but the Aiken’s remained patient.  

Once the NCAA early recruiting rule went into effect, Emerson played freer with more focus and rigor than ever before. “It was the best 17 months that I've seen her in my life,” Crystal said. “She focused on herself. She focused on the team. All of the team focused on the team.”

On September 1, 2019, phone calls flooded in for Emerson but she kept her cool. Before the recruiting rule change, she took unofficial visits to East Carolina, Duke, Ohio State, and Georgia. Emerson researched the schools and was much more thorough in the recruiting process. But after the September 1st phone calls, she narrowed her choices down to Michigan and two SEC schools.

First stop, Ann Arbor. 


“As soon as I stepped on the campus, I immediately felt welcomed by everybody,” Emerson said. “You can feel the culture there, which was different from all of the places that I've visited before and everything kind of just clicked into place.”

The first night, Emerson and her family ate dinner with Coach Carol Hutchins. Hutch is a legend on Michigan’s campus. Earning the title of the winningest coach in school history, she is now entering her 36th season as head coach. It’s no surprise that everyone on Michigan’s campus knows her name.

Emerson spent more quality time with the coaches and players and went to the football game. Throughout the trip, she felt at ease and so comfortable being around the Wolverines that she knew this was the place. Michigan felt right in her heart, mind, and soul.

Looking back at the last few years, there have been plenty of emotional and physical ups and downs but what kept her steady is her faith in herself, in God, in her family, and in her purpose.

“Trust the process. It’s different for everybody, but as long as you focus on working harder,” Emerson added. “Don’t worry about impressing anyone. Just play as good as you can play.” 

In the last year, Emerson Aiken became a Michigan-commit, USA JO Cup Champion, and made All-State First Team after striking out 304 batters in 144 innings pitched. As a sophomore, she held a 0.48 ERA with 12 shutouts and seven no-hitters.


“People always told me to lay your bricks with a firm foundation and only build on that with people that you think can add like a positive and sturdy structure. I think that was a cool message.”

- Emerson Aiken 

Why Mary Nutter Is A Critical Battleground For Tournament Seekers

What You Get With Your PRO Subscription

Mark Allister is the author of Women’s College Softball on the Rise: A Season Inside the Game. He will be writing on DIII softball this spring and would welcome story ideas and comments at allister@stolaf.edu

LSU Travels To The Judi Garman Classic

What You Get With Your PRO Subscription

BATON ROUGE – The No. 4 LSU Softball team will travel to Fullerton, California for the Judi Garman Classic Thursday through Saturday at the Anderson Family Fields.  All five of LSU's games this weekend will stream online through FloSoftball. A fee to watch will be required. All five games will also be available via live stats at LSUStats.com.

THE Spring Games Weekly Viewing Guide: March 2-8

null

THE Spring Games is back. With over 500 college softball teams participating, THE Spring Games is undoubtedly the largest college softball event in the world.

Loyalty and Consistency Keys To Success For LSU Softball

What You Get With Your PRO Subscription

Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the LSU Tigers were picked to finish third in the SEC Coaches poll behind Alabama and Tennessee. They opened the season ranked 11th in both the ESPN/USA Softball poll and USA Today/NFCA DI Coaches poll.

Alma College Remains 3-0 at THE Spring Games

null

Alma College remains perfect at THE Spring Games after picking up their third straight win over Capital University, winning 9-3. They also plowed through their competition on Sunday, winning 22-1 over Northern Vermont-Johnson and 11-3 over Hanover College. 

What To Watch For At The 2020 Judi Garman Classic

What You Get With Your PRO Subscription

March is right around the corner, and the last week of February means play in the Judi Garman Classic will close out the opening month of the 2020 NCAA Softball. Cal State Fullerton will again host the 13-team event starting on Thursday, February 27 and running through Sunday.

South Dakota Finishes 4-1 at THE Spring Games This Week

null

The Coyotes wrapped up their trip to THE Spring Games by defeating Merrimack 8-0. They were able to capture a 4-1 record on the week while improving their overall record to 8-8. 

Dawn Bodrug Throws A Perfect Game As Stony Brook Goes 5-0 On The Week

What You Get With Your PRO Subscription

Stony Brook had quite the showing at THE Spring Games as they went 5-0 on the week after defeating both Georgetown and Cornell. Not only did they leave Florida with a perfect 5-0 record on the week, but Dawn Bodrug also added on a perfect game to wrap up their journey at THE Spring Games. 

2020 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Photos: UCLA

UCLA softball photos from the 2020 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic taken by Kelvin Kuo from USA TODAY Sports.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

2020 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Photos: Wisconsin

Wisconsin softball photos from the 2020 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic taken by Kelvin Kuo from USA TODAY Sports.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In