When senior Austin Long became the sixth college-bound softball player from the Lady Wolfpack, the story was a little different from the rest.
Long signed a scholarship last week to play at Brigham Young University's Hawaii campus. The starting pitcher will suit up for the Seasiders next fall in Laie, Hawaii.
"This is one trip I might be able to convince my wife to go on," Greenbrier coach Garrett Black said at a signing ceremony May 16.
Long said BYU-Hawaii was one of many colleges vying for the senior's arm. While all of her other options, including Georgia Southern University, were in the Southeast United States, BYU-Hawaii is more than 3,500 miles away from Greenbrier.
"I visited Hawaii two years ago and loved it," Long said. "I don't like cold weather, and it was December and 80 degrees. Once I got an offer I knew that was it."
Long will take more than just sunscreen to the tropical shores. The pitching ace finished her senior year with a 24-6 record and 143 strike outs. Her 0.535 ERA led the entire county.
"She meant a lot to us," Black said. "Austin did everything we asked on the mound. She was a big part of our success."
The impressive senior year came in Long's first season with Greenbrier. She previously played at Westside High School in Augusta. Long said the move to Columbia County was a good decision.
"Without Greenbrier I wouldn't have gotten the exposure, and Hawaii wouldn't have been an option," Long said.
Her grandfather, Cecil "Red" Long, was on hand for the signing. He was also one of those who encouraged the transfer to Greenbrier.
"It's another success story because of leaving Richmond County," he said with a laugh.
While Austin Long prepares for another move forward, the starting pitcher hopes to help improve on BYU-Hawaii's 10-28 season last year as a part of the NCAA D-II's Pacific West Conference.
If not, she's still in Hawaii.
"If she has a bad inning she can just go for a walk on the beach," Black said. "She couldn't have made a better choice."
Lewis signs with Georgia Southern
Another Greenbrier athlete signed a college scholarship last week when senior Melissa Lewis committed to Georgia Southern University.
Although the senior has dominated on the basketball court for most of her high school career, Lewis will be aiming for a different net as a Lady Eagle. She'll be a freshman on the Georgia Southern volleyball team.
"It was hard at first because no one considers Melissa and volleyball. It's always been Melissa and basketball," Lewis said.
While basketball took up most of Lewis' time through her high school career, volleyball was always second on the list. As other volleyball standouts in the area worked on their game in the offseason with summer leagues and travel teams, Lewis only played and practiced the sport during the fall season.
That's about to change.
"Volleyball hasn't been something I've been able to dedicate a lot of time to. I'm excited to see what I can do," Lewis said.
Greenbrier volleyball coach Debbie Born saw Lewis excel as a part-time volleyball player.
"She's full time now," Born said. "Her work ethic has really come along, and she's got the potential to be amazing."
Lewis was one of the first volleyball players to sign for first-year Georgia Southern volleyball coach Nicole McCray, who took over the program in February.
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