Seniors play vital role in Wolves return to 1A state tournament
by ERICH HILKERT
FAYETTEVILLE—For many of Fayetteville’s softball players, such as senior Summer Guy, this season’s trip to the State Finals in Montgomery is a return trip. For senior Katelyn Bierley, it will technically be a return trip, but it will also be her first time playing, as she went last year as a teammate and spectator, out with a broken hand.

According to Guy, Bierley showed a lot of toughness in returning to the team this season.

“She works hard at what she does,” Guy said. “She really tries hard—you can tell—and she loves the sport. Last year, her hand was broken, so she didn’t get to play with us very much. Instead of quitting, she got right back up and played with us. I really appreciate her doing that, because we really need her on second base. I love that she has the heart for it, because she just got right back out here.”

Bierley believes what enables a team to play at a high level of competition is the level of team chemistry shared by the players.

“It’s really about how you mesh with your team,” Bierley said. “You really have to like each other on the field. If you have diversity on the team, it shows in the way you play. You just have to care about each other, really actually care about each other on and off the field or you’re not going to play good on the field.”

Fayetteville High School decided building team chemistry is important too, so the team will participate in shared activities and shared accommodations. The team, out of necessity, was forced to stay in different cities because hotels were overbooked in Troy long before the South-Central Regional last weekend. Bierley and Guy both were excited the school rewarded the team for their accomplishment.

”We’re leaving tomorrow at 1 p.m.,” Bierley said. “We get to do all this team stuff together. The school is paying for us to go eat together, then we’re going to go bowling together and it’s going to be really fun to bond as a team. I think it will make us play better as a team since we’re going to be doing stuff together and riding the bus together and staying at the same hotel. I think it’s really good that they did that.”

The two seniors are friends off the field as well.

“I love Summer very much,” Bierley said in earnest. “I’m glad to be playing softball with her. Last year, I didn’t get to play. So, this is our first year really playing together. I love her on and off the field. I love hanging out with her. She’s a really sincere person.”

Keeping the big picture in perspective and remembering to have fun on the field has been a key point for Guy. She believes, at times, when the team gets overly competitive it can cause them to tense up, but when they are relaxed and having fun, they play at their best.

“I know before Billingsley, we had a little practice out on the field and that was really fun. We were all pumped up. We were all just having fun. I think that helped us get our mindset right. We’re all very competitive girls and our mindset is too much about winning sometimes and we get a little stressed out about it. When we have fun, you can definitely tell. We succeed and we win when we have fun.”

Guy believes not tensing up is most advantageous while at the plate.

“The regular season is done, so all we can do is try our best,” Guy said. “It takes a lot of pressure off hitting. I was so stressed out during the regular season, but now I just think ‘All I can do is hit.’ When we were playing Ragland, they’re good at catching balls, their defense is great. All I can do is try to hit it in the hole and see what happens.”

The two players already have plans for their careers following high school.

Guy plans to attend Central Alabama Community College in Childersburg and hopes to one day get her bachelor’s degree and become a registered nurse. Guy will receive an academic scholarship beginning this fall and will be a walk-on in the Ambassador program with the school, traveling with the team for recruiting fairs and other similar formal occasions.

Bierley plans to become an assistant to a dentist in preparation for a future career as a dental hygienist. Typically, such an apprenticeship lasts roughly two years with a chance to formally attend dental hygiene school upon completion.

For now, Bierley, who said she has played varsity softball since seventh grade, is relieved the team advanced to the State Finals because it allows her to extend her softball career for at least another week.

“I’m really glad we’re going to State because that didn’t have to be my last game,” Bierley said. “I get to play more games. I get to have more practice and it’s really exciting for it not to be over as quickly as it could have been.”
© 2013