— By GREG WEBB
BROCK — Brock softball head coach Ryan Starnes had several minutes of praise to heap on senior Haley Hardison during her letter-of-intent signing celebration at Brock high school, last week. His greatest compliment pointed to Hardison’s dedication as a team player.
Though an infielder through her formative years, select ball and earlier years playing for Brock, last season the Lady Eagles needed a catcher. Hardison stepped into the role and performed superbly, excelling at the position. And the move had little effect on her usual prowess at the plate, as well.
Hardison was joined by friends, coaches and family to ink her commitment to attend and play softball for Lubbock Christian University after her prep days of studies and athletics are done.
“This is a very exciting day for me,” Hardison said. “I am so proud to have the opportunity to go to LCU, and to play for Coach [Daren] Hays, and in such a good softball program. “
Playing here at Brock still means the world to me, and it’s nice to get to another level in the sport, and to get [the signing] taken care of.”
Haley will shed the catcher’s gear when she steps onto the Lady Chaps diamond, but is happy to handle duties behind the plate because “Coach Starnes needs me there.” She will resume her third-base position at LCU.
Hardison presented her softball abilities to Coach Hays by attending a camp held at LCU.
“Coach Hays never had seen me play in a an actual game before I attended the camp,” she said. “The second I stepped onto the campus and got to meet Coach Hays, I knew LCU was the place I needed to be.
‘It is such a great environment, and I really love Lubbock.”
LCU was also an attractive destination for Hardison because they are strong in the education and medical disciplines. Haley plans to pursue a vocation in one of those fields, perhaps as a physical therapist if she goes the medical route.
With another softball season to play with the Lady Eagles, the annual lofty expectations are part of Hardison’s plans. She credits her experience at Brock, in the classroom and on the diamond, with her drive to achieve greater goals.
“Brock has been a great influence for me,” Haley said. “The school and coaches only ask for your best here, and that has always kept me on track and trying to get better, not just for myself, but for others, as well.
“This school is a great place to be and I think really does a good job preparing us for college. And I really want to get to state this year, and to push my team to get there.”