Two Spring Hill softball players sign
Jan. 15, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Two days before the Spring Hill Lady Panthers are scheduled to take to the field for the first official softball practice of the 2014 season, two of the team's seniors celebrated another accomplishment on Wednesday.
With family, friends and teammates looking on, pitcher Hailie Gilbert and catcher Madison Haney announced their intentions to play softball at the college level during a ceremony at Panther Gymnasium.
Gilbert will play at University of the Ozarks, while Haney will continue her education and softball career at Bossier Parish Community College.
"Hopefully, doing this now will take a lot of pressure off both kids," Spring Hill head softball coach Chelsea Mayfield said. "They know what they'll be doing in college, and now they can just relax and play this season. Hailee and Madison are both phenomenal leaders on and off the field. That's a big reason they are going to the next level."
Gilbert pitches for the Lady Panthers and is expected to do the same at the college level, but she also put together a solid season at the plate in 2013 with a .398 average, one home run, five doubles, a triple, 11 RBis and 32 runs scored.
"I wasn't really getting looked at, but my dad and I prayed about it and sent a lot of my pitching videos off. Coach (Laurie) Adkins showed some interest, and I kept that in the back of my mind. Later, after I met with her after a tournament we talked and I really liked her. I visited the school and really felt at home."
Gilbert said coaches have told her to come in prepared to be in the starting rotation as a freshman in 2015.
Ozarks, located in Clarksville, Ark., competes in the American Southwest Conference with LeTourneau, Concordia, Louisiana College, Sul Ross, Hardin Simmons, Mississippi College, Howard Payne, Mary Hardin-Baylor, ETBU, UT Tyler and Texas Dallas.
The team finished 14-26 overall and 4-20 in the conference last season.
Haney hit .426 with two home runs, 31 RBIs, 14 doubles and a .638 slugging percentage last season to earn ETvarsity.com All-East Texas second team honors. She said she'll likely play first base, catch and be used as a designated hitter at Bossier Parish.
"I went to a tournament the team (Bossier Parish) was running, met coach (Ashley) Grisham and saw they were having tryouts," Haney said. "I liked the college and liked the way they ran things. It's just a really good fit."
Bossier Parish competes in the Region XIV Conference with Trinity Valley, Paris, Northeast Texas, Navarro and Kilgore, finishing 16-41 overall and 2-18 in the conference a year ago.
<em>(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/lnjsports" target="_blank">@lnjsports</a>)</em>