After Ashley Hale signed a letter of intent to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on a softball scholarship this fall, teammates, coaches and family members couldn't contain themselves.
Cheers echoed through the Springlakes clubhouse, and one voice intoned, "Hale, yeah."
With the Wednesday signing ceremony complete, Hale, a 2002 Evans High School graduate, was well on her way to the country town of Tifton, Ga., where she'll play catcher for the powerful junior college program.
"I've wanted to sign a college scholarship ever since I've been playing softball," Hale said. "I was kind of skeptical about going to a junior college, but they're really, really good."
The ABAC Fillies claimed a third consecutive Georgia Junior College Athletic Association state title this past season, and the squad finished with a No. 9 national ranking.
"We're fortunate to get good athletes like Ashley," ABAC coach Donna Campbell said. "She's coming in with 13 other freshmen, but the good thing about a junior college is, if you work hard, you can play as a freshman."
Hale already was thinking along those lines last week.
"I'm going to try my best to start," she said. "I'm going to work real hard this summer, because I don't want to sit the bench."
In addition to being part of the most successful senior softball class Evans has ever produced, Hale was a member of the Lady Knights' soccer and basketball teams. She also plays catcher for the Determinators fastpitch softball travel team, which will compete in tournaments this summer.
"I love sports. They keep me motivated," she said. "I can't just sit around. I have to be active."
Her signing marked the sixth scholarship earned by a Determinators' player this year - Evans grads Adrienne Daniels, Allison Foster, Melody Johnson, Heather Jones, and Lakeside's Amanda McGraw also will play college softball next season.
"The main purpose for the Determinators is to get us signed by a college," Hale said. "To get all five seniors from the Evans softball team signed was really awesome."
Hale plans to major in communications at ABAC, and she certainly will keep the lines of communication open with the teammates who attended the signing at Springlakes.
"We're going to stay in touch, no doubt," she said. "These are my best friends - all of them."
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