Glen Allen softball ace Emerson Aiken made her decision to join the University of Michigan program official Wednesday morning by signing her national letter of intent, the earliest signing date in accordance with NCAA protocols. Aiken announced her decision last year.
Aiken, a 2019 first-team All-Metro honoree her sophomore year, struck out 304 hitters in 144 innings during a season in which the Jaguars went 18-3 and reached the Class 5 semifinal. Aiken posted a 0.48 ERA and .465 WHIP, and tossed 12 shutouts, seven no-hitters and two perfect games. Aiken also garnered first-team All-State and All-Academic honors that season.
Though she lost her junior season to the pandemic, Aiken was still chosen as the 2020 Gatorade softball player of the year for Virginia. ExtraInningSoftball in October recognized her as a top-100 player nationally in the Class of 2021.
Aiken described her journey to Michigan as an “unexpected treasure.” She knew she wanted to play for a Power Five program, but initially focused on southern schools. Her travel team, Tennessee Mojo 2021, competes all over the country, so she was exposed to a wide array of players and localities.
Some family friends who live near Ann Arbor, Mich., encouraged her to attend a camp at Michigan, and her relationship with the program took off from there.
“I was instantly in love with the feel of the campus and the people there,” Aiken said. “It was full of diversity and the city itself is so unique. Of course, I couldn’t ignore the legendary coaching staff and softball program.”
Wolverines head coach Carol Hutchins is in her 37th season leading the program. With a career record of 1,631-525-5, she’s the winningest head coach in NCAA softball history and has guided Michigan to 21 conference titles and an NCAA championship.
“I had always heard epic stories of Coach Hutch and her staff,” Aiken said. “At that first camp, I instantly felt a connection with them all in different ways. … I know I’ll learn so much from each of them.”
The academic opportunity presented by Michigan was also a major factor in her decision, Aiken said. Though she’s a little apprehensive about the cold temperatures and lengthy distance from home, “every aspect of Michigan clicked with me, and it felt like home,” Aiken said.
If there is a 2021 high school softball season, Aiken said she intends to play for a Jaguars program that will enter the season as one of the local and statewide favorites in Class 5 with her in the circle.