When Greenbrier High School softball player Haley Smith committed to play for the Berry College Vikings, a Division III school in Rome, Ga., one of the things that helped her choose Berry was its familiarity.
“They make me feel kind of like I do now, part of the family.” Smith said. “It’s really a family atmosphere.”
Greenbrier head softball coach and athletic director Garrett Black had nothing but praise for Smith, who he said is one of his all-time favorite players.
“This kid has sold out to Greenbrier for four years,” Black said. “I appreciate her loyalty to the program and her loyalty to me.
“We’re going to miss her. She’s meant a lot to our program the last four years.”
Playing softball at the next level is important to Smith, but for the future biology major, academics was always the first priority. Especially, she said, as it was always stressed by her parents and Black.
“I had chosen Berry because of their programs,” Smith said. “They have a program I was interested in studying, so it was kind of the icing on the cake that I’d go get to play softball, and do what I love, and be at a great school at the same time.”
Smith enjoyed playing left field for the Lady Wolfpack, but the way her senior season ended was upsetting.
“To lose the region for the first time in school history and not making it to Columbus is bittersweet,” she said after the Lady Wolfpack’s streak from 1996 to 2010 ended.
It is too early to say what position she will play at Berry. And while she hopes she will be used as an outfielder/slapper, it is defense that gets her excited and where she hopes to make her mark.
“I kind of like defense. There’s something about it that gets me pumped up,” Smith said. “A great defensive game is almost better than having a great offensive game.”
While she may have decided on biology as a major, she still isn’t sure what that will lead to.
“Your guess is as good as mine to what I’m going to do when I’m older,” Smith said.