The Providence softball team has been on the cusp of overtaking the top spot in the Southwestern 4A conference for the past few seasons. This year, after realignment pushed them into the newly created So. Meck 8, the Panthers were forced into one of the state’s most top-heavy softball leagues with perennial powers Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Catholic, Olympic and South Meck all making a bid for conference supremacy.
But the Panthers didn’t back down. They instead managed to defeat each team in the league and finish right in the thick of the conference race thanks in large part to junior Haley Reid, who took the stiffer competition to task.
“It’s really enjoyable playing against some of the better teams,” she said. “The competition is great for me and I love playing against someone who is as talented or better than us. They have players that are really good, and playing people who are arguably better than you makes you want to be a better player.”
And the numbers certainly backed up her desire. Reid was the only pitcher in the So. Meck 8 to beat Olympic’s ace pitcher Lori McCoy, and she added a home run in that game for good measure. Against Charlotte Catholic’s Carrie Eberle, Reid struck out 11 batters in a losing effort and later recorded nine strikeouts, helping to guide the Panthers to a 9-1 win over the Cougars while hitting two doubles and a triple as well.
With her big-game mentality leading the way, the Panthers posted a 17-9 overall record and went 11-3 in league play. They cruised to an 11-2 run over the season’s final month before fizzling out with tough losses in the So. Meck 8 tournament and in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“I’m proud of the way our team finished the season strong,” Reid said. “It’s easy to get distracted halfway through or toward the end of the year because there are a lot of other things going on, but our team did a really good job keeping focused.”
While most athletes are able to juggle school and sports, Reid has it down to a science. The junior took three AP classes this season and boasts a 4.7 GPA that has her considering Duke, North Carolina or some Ivy League schools. While always deeply involved in the band, this year she’s done enough to become the band president where she plays the baritone saxophone and carries the flags and weapons in the color guard.
“I’m proud of how I was able to manage my time because I didn’t have that much extra time,” she said. “That led to me going 100 percent when I was here before practice, during practice or after practice – I never wanted to do anything half-hearted. If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it all out or not do it at all.”
It was that type of mentality that translated on the field and showed up in every phase of the game. Reid earned all-district and all-state honors this season after batting .513 while recording a .949 slugging percentage. She recorded 40 hits – including nine doubles, five home runs and five triples – drove in 28 RBIs and scored 28 runs.
The Panthers’ leading pitcher won 12 games in the circle, although she didn’t play against the five easiest games this season, and struck out 127 batters while recording a near-flawless .978 fielding percentage.
Now, Reid is the 2014 South Charlotte Weekly Softball Player of the Year.
“I’m really honored and I really appreciate the recognition for the hard work,” she said. “The honors are something that I’ll continue to work toward next year, as well.”
With Reid and fellow all-state selection Wyeth Folmar headlining 10 returning players, the Panthers are positioned to again be in contention for the league title on talent alone. But Reid knows there’s more to it than that.
“I’m looking forward to having a really good team atmosphere because off the field is as important as on it,” she said. “I think we’re going to have a great team atmosphere and it’s going to lead to good numbers.
I think we need to make sure we’re helping everyone. Softball isn’t an ‘I’ game, it’s what can I do to help everyone else.”
With that in mind, Reid is working on improving her rise ball and curveball that have defined her success as a pitcher.
“I’m working on the movement of my pitches so they fall harder and later and making them harder to see as a batter,” she said. “I’m not as much of a speed pitcher, but I throw with a lot of movement so that where you think you see the ball and where it ends up are two totally different things.
“If I can trick the batter and keep them guessing then I’ve won the at bat.”
While she was lights out in the circle, at the plate Reid said she wants to continue to help facilitate the Panther offense and lead them to an even better year to cap off her senior season.
“It’s more rewarding to get hits off of good pitchers, but I try to put the ball in play,” she said. “It’s a team effort to score and you can’t win the game with zero runs, so at the plate is where the game is really won.”
With Reid leading the team in batting, pitching and in the clubhouse, her coach and father, John, knows his team is in good hands.
“It’s difficult sometimes because I think we had to prove that she deserve to be where she was,” the elder Reid said.
“I think she may have played more early on if I wasn’t coaching. It’s hard sometimes because I’m the coach and have to treat her just like everyone else.
“She’s in a tough spot but has handled it well. I told her early on that her numbers need to stand above the rest of the team – and they do. I’m proud of what she’s done.”