Sting players hear the buzz

Published 11:06 pm Saturday, July 5, 2014

Nansemond River High School graduate Maddy-Grace Lavender, has elected to join the U.S. Air Force in the fall.

Nansemond River High School graduate Maddy-Grace Lavender, has elected to join the U.S. Air Force in the fall.

The Sting Fastpich 18U Gold team functions to help its players get where they want to go in life, and that may or may not include softball. The team currently features a trio of Suffolk players who are in various stages along the journey of deciding what comes after high school.

Recent Nansemond River High School graduate Maddy-Grace Lavender is headed to the military.

“I’m going to enlist into the Air Force and be an Air Force firefighter,” she said.

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“The Air Force has the most job opportunities for active-duty firefighters,” she said. She was pleased they treat their people really well, and added, “I know I want a family, so they’re best if you’re going to want a family.”

Sting coach Scott Haley said Lavender had three or four college offers, but she decided those were not the routes she wanted to take.

He noted the team can showcase girls, helping them get athletic scholarships to play college ball, but the assistance is not limited to that.

“This isn’t just about softball,” Haley said. “This is about helping to establish kids for their future.”

Sometimes that can come simply through the life lessons learned through the game.

Nansemond River rising senior Emily Carson is a member of the Sting who is still deciding where she will go after high school.

“Right now, I’m looking at either attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and I’m looking at playing softball at one of those two,” Carson said.

Haley said he and his fellow coaches are not pushing players to go into the military, but rather the players have shown interest.

Carson’s demonstrated talent as a catcher and batter at showcases, this year and previously, have meant she has many collegiate options.

“Emily’s got interest at all levels,” Haley said.

Carson said since she was young, she remembered hearing the charge to go to a Division I school, but she has since learned to have a different priority.

“Make sure it’s the school that you want to go to before you decide,” she said. “But it’s been pretty awesome having D1 schools look at me, too.”

Nansemond River and Sting player Maddie McGrath is only a rising junior, but she already has seen interest from a Division I school.

“Maddie’s got a big future, there’s no question,” Haley said, after seeing what she can do, particularly at third base and shortstop.

He said he tells his players, “Whether you (say you) can or you can’t, you’re right.” Regarding McGrath, he said, “I’ll tell you this, she never can’t.”

McGrath said she knows she wants to play college ball, preferably D1, and major in something along the lines of sports medicine.

She said receiving D1 interest as sophomore is “pretty cool, and it opened up my eyes to see that I really need to start getting prepared and emailing more coaches and really focusing on my future.”