BY NIC MILLER, Elizabethton Star
As springtime approaches, people in the Elizabethton community always look forward to Cyclone baseball as well as keeping an eye on the talented Lady Cyclones softball team that continues to build on their tradition of excellence.
After a very successful season last year clinching a sub-state appearance, the Lady Cyclones looked to their current four seniors to repeat the process and exceed last season’s effort.
Catcher Haley Fair is the field general of the defense and a clutch hitter on the offensive side.
Kira Dillard is an all-around player that locks down the outfield and knows how to swing the bat. RBI specialist Hannah Edwards is a key player for the Lady Cyclones.
Autumn Hensley serves as a tremendous power hitter for Elizabethton who is back stronger than ever after a season-ending injury last season.
These four senior players have put many games under their belt during their high school careers. That experience helps this group of seniors take charge of their team leading them to become the best squad they can be.
They set the standard for leadership and excellence on the team.
For Fair being a senior member of the team and a leader represents a significant role to fill.
“Being a senior leader is an important job,” stated Fair. “You have to always have a positive attitude and be a good role model to the other players.
“They feed off of the older players and how we react is how they will. So, how we handle the situations of the game helps to determine the outcome of the game.”
As the one behind the plate which leads the charge defensively, Fair said that “It is my job to let my teammates know where and what to do every play. I work hard to keep the pitchers in their zone and spread positivity in every situation, no matter the outcome.
“I have the best view on the field—everything is in front of me and with that being said, it is important for my teammates to hear my voice every play.”
Dillard has enjoyed her time as a Lady Cyclone working with the coaches and younger players. “As I look back, I see how friendships with my coaches and teammates have developed over the past four years,” said Dillard. “I’ve loved watching this year’s freshmen class transition from being shy to cracking jokes with the rest of us.
“Our whole team meshes together so well.”
Dillard is a take-charge type of leader who takes it upon herself to do what she asks others to do. “The best way to lead is by example,” added Dillard. “I’m not going to ask my teammates for an amount of effort that I’m not willing to put forth myself.
“It’s important for the team, especially the younger girls, to see hard work from the seniors.”
Edwards, the third senior for the Lady Cyclones, was asked how it felt to be a senior knowing that the younger players looked up to her.
“Being a senior is awesome because you have experience behind you, and you can help guide the younger girls too,” stated Edwards. “It’s also a big role because you set the tone for the team and you have to be a positive role model setting good examples for the younger players.
“My favorite part of being a senior softball player is the memories I have made and the lessons I’ve learned,” continued Edwards. “Being a part of the team has been a positive influence on my life, and I wouldn’t trade my time as an EHS softball player for the world.”
The common theme among the seniors on the Lady Cyclone team is being a leader for their teammates to follow and that sentiment wasn’t lost by Hensley either.
“I enjoy being a role model for the underclassmen,” Hensley commented. “We’ve had a tough year which isn’t something we are used to so as a senior I’ve had to step up and keep a positive attitude when things are tough.
“It’s challenging but for them to be able to look up to me for guidance during those times is priceless.”
After an injury last year that held her back from playing her junior year, Hensley has bounced back better than ever.
“After my junior season ended earlier than I would have liked it too, I was more than ready for senior season,” Hensley added. “I knew to come back even stronger for my senior year I would have to put in a lot of hard work and stay dedicated. Being positive was another huge factor.
“Some days were definitely better than others during my recovery, but being positive is what helped bouncing back seems a little bit easier.”
The seniors have been outstanding all year long and their final season isn’t over yet.
They have had to overcome obstacles already this year meaning that no one needs to give up on this Lady Cyclones ball club anytime soon.
When it comes to tournament time, season records don’t matter which is why this team has high hopes of making it deep into the postseason.
With seniors like these with determination and grit, they are hoping to lead their team to an even more successful season.