After starting for Greenbrier High School’s varsity softball squad as a freshman, then suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery as a sophomore, Lauren Masters had a decision to make.
She could continue playing for the school, or instead focus solely on travel ball.
“I think as a kid, I always wanted to play (Division I),” Masters said. “Not everybody gets that chance.”
Now a senior at Greenbrier, she believes choosing the latter helped her achieve that goal.
On Wednesday, Masters signed a letter of intent to play for North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
“The atmosphere,” Masters replied when asked what she’s most excited about. “I love N.C. State. I love the state, and I love my coach.
“I’m just excited to get in there and go to work and hopefully get an ACC championship ring.”
Her travel team, Southern Force out of Watkinsville, Ga., features players from a variety of areas. Thus, team members don’t practice together.
That means the players are responsible for showing up to tournaments held throughout the country ready to play at the highest level.
“It’s definitely up to us,” said Masters, who will major in either biology or chemistry and plans to attend
medical school. “We’re expected to show up and play. You better be practicing or someone else will come in and take your spot.”
Though Masters said it’s been a rewarding experience, she admitted that she’s sacrificed a great deal.
“There are times during the weekend when everybody is going out with friends, but I would have to stay home and do workouts, or go practice at the field and hit,” she said of sessions with her father, Charles.
Masters, a power hitter who has carried at least a .400 batting average since the age of 12, is unsure whether she’ll play second or third base at N.C. State.
What she does know is that she’ll have an opportunity to come in and start as a freshman, something her former coach with the Southern Force believes won’t faze her.
“She’s just a real feisty player,” Tara Archibald said. “She always comes through in clutch situations. She’s a very solid defensive player who can play multiple positions.
“And she’s a phenomenal hitter with great power.”
Southern Force won the 2011 Independence Day Tournament in Boulder, Colo. Archibald noted that it’s a major national recruiting event that featured upwards of 150 of the best teams in the nation.
The team was third this season at the ASA Nationals and fourth the year before.
Masters joins her sister in the college softball ranks.
Ashlyn Masters, a 2010 Greenbrier graduate, initially signed with Florida State University. She plays for Northwest Florida State and soon will be transferring back into Division I. Lauren Masters said there’s even a chance the two could be reunited in Raleigh.