Perhaps it was because it happened during the Women’s College World Series, but the transfer news of Charla Echols, who is joining the Florida Gators starting in 2020 after playing her freshman season at Michigan State, seemed to have flown by under the radar when she announced it on her Twitter account May 23, 2019.
It’s a huge pickup for Tim Walton’s team as the lefty has the potential to be one of the top hitters in the sport.
“We're thrilled that Charla will be joining our program for the 2020 season." Walton said in a release issued by Florida on May 27, 2019. "Charla is a professional hitter and has an infectious personality that will rub off on the entire program. I know that she is excited to be a Gator and is ready to get to work. We can't wait to have her on campus with the team in the fall."
Currently, Echols is playing with the USA Softball U-19 Women’s National Team at the Scrap Yard complex in Conroe, Texas and will travel with Team USA throughout the U.S. and then over to Paris for some international experience.
The Newnan, Georgia native really came into her own in the summer of 2018 when she had a huge travel ball season with Patrick Lewis’s Georgia Impact team.
Lewis and noted hitting coach Lincoln Martin told us then that she was one of the best hitters in the 2018 class and Charla, along with several other standout players including Skylar Wallace (Alabama), Julia Cottrill (Florida signee) and Kelley Lynch (Washington signee), had an outstanding summer capped by the Impact winning the PGF 18U Nationals.
She was also a Top 50 recruit in the 2019 Extra Elite 100, played in the PGF All-American Game and was one of the 11 chosen to participate in the Louisville Slugger Hit Club.
As a freshman at Michigan State, Charla played on the same field as older sister, Ebonee Echols, who led the Big Ten team with a .353 batting average with Charla being second with a .344 mark.
The younger sister, however, earned some bragging rights by compiling a team best on-base percentage of .456--just a hair better than Ebonee’s .455. Charla also led the team with 45 hits and 76 total bases and was second in runs scored (45) and doubles (13).
Before the personable and seemingly always-smiling infielder left to play for Team USA this week, we caught up with the Newnan, Georgia native to ask about her big freshman year, why she’s headed back to the South and what she thinks of playing for the Red, White and Blue…
You’re playing with the USA Softball Jr. National Team this summer… has it sunk in yet?
I’m so excited, it’s come with a lot of emotion because it’s what you dream of as a little girl, playing for your country with “USA” on your jersey.
When you tried out in January, did you think you did well and made the team?
Not the first day, I was really nervous and it wasn’t my best day, it wasn’t what I knew I could do. The second and third days, though, I picked up and did better. I felt when it was done I had a good chance to make the team.
You went to Michigan State where Ebonee was already playing… was that the main factor in your signing with the Spartans? Many were surprised you would leave the South and SEC after your great play last summer.
Ebonee was there when I committed—I was a freshman if I remember correctly. I liked Michigan State a lot as the campus and the coaches were great. There were a lot of coaching changes (assistants) from the time I committed and it was different, but that wasn’t the reason I left; the weather was tough for me to play in, my sister is leaving and it was far from home. Those were more of the reasons why I decided to look at going somewhere closer to home.