Where there’s a will…
There was band camp. Then there was volleyball camp. Then a trip to the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) 2012 softball national championships.
That is what 17-year-old W.S. Neal senior-to-be Kaitlin Hadaway faced during the last few weeks of July.
But a busy summer for Hadaway is only preparing her for a busy final year at W.S. Neal.
Hadaway is also involved volleyball, softball, drum major of the W.S. Neal marching band, a member of the scholars bowl team, National Honors society, mathematics honors society Mu Alpha Theta, and yearbook staff as well as also serving as the vice president of her senior class.
“I thoroughly enjoy volleyball and softball,” Hadaway said. “Having a busy schedule gets pretty crazy sometimes. It helps to have great parents that support you in whatever you do and try to make everything possible and work out. If they weren’t there I wouldn’t get half as much done as I do now. It also helps to have great coaches and a band director that will work with you on your schedule as much as possible so you can do as much as possible everyday with each. Being very busy also makes you prioritize your time better on what is the most important in your success in life.”
While she is busy prioritizing her summer and senior year, Hadaway also is planning her future post-W.S. Neal.
“I’ve always wanted to become an orthodontist and now I’m exploring dentistry and physical therapy,” she said. “I am currently enrolled at Jefferson Davis Community College and hope to transfer to Auburn University after graduating from JD. I love playing volleyball and softball and I would love to continue playing softball after high school wherever I may get the opportunity.”
While she has plans of becoming an orthodontist, dentist or physical therapy, Hadaway might just get that opportunity to play a sport in college and that sport might be softball if her stats from her junior season are any indication of what her senior season may look like.
In 31 games last season for the Lady Eagle softball team, Hadaway helped guide the team to a 19-12 record—a record that has improved every year for Hadaway and the Lady Eagles. During the 2011 season, W.S. Neal was 12-12. In her freshman season, W.S. Neal went 7-16. In years prior to that, W.S. Neal was 6-15 in 2009, and 4-14 in 2008.
Hadaway pitched 166.1 innings last season and allowed 111 hits, 108 runs, 46 earned, walked 83, struck out 255, pitched nine shutouts, five no-hitters, and had a 1.89 ERA.
Also last season, W.S. Neal defeated T.R. Miller twice in one season after never having defeated the Lady Tigers. Also, W.S. Neal won the first-ever Escambia County tournament. In that tournament, W.S. Neal went 3-0 as they defeated Flomaton, T.R. Miller 2-0 and Escambia County of Atmore 4-0.
Hadaway earned all three wins on the mound allowing eight hits, struck out 24, walked none and surrendered no runs while hitting three.
“I always have high expectations for my team and myself,” Hadaway said. “This year as a team, for both sports, I want to improve the records from the past years. The teams have gotten better in each of the past several years and I don’t want it to stop. I think we can be very competitive on the volleyball court because my teammates have been playing together and have a lot of experience. I want to be able to make the regional playoffs again in volleyball and for the first time in softball. We were so close this past year in softball to making the playoffs and it really makes up want to work harder to make it this year. With it being my senior year, I want to go out on a good note and leave a good team for the younger players. This year we won the first ever area tournament in softball. I want to be able to keep the title of area champions in softball and earn one in volleyball too.”
As for herself, Hadaway said she always pushes herself to what she knows she can do.
“I want to become the best I can be as a player, teammate, and person,” she said. “I want to push myself to become a better pitcher and ballplayer. I wish to help my team reach the potential I know they can reach. I want to be able to learn from them as they can from me. Once I have graduated, I want to have left an impression on many girls’ lives that they can carry out in the future here at W.S. Neal.”
While she plays both volleyball and softball, Hadaway said she loves both sports and cannot pick a favorite.
“When one season is in, it is my favorite but when the other rolls around, it becomes my life as well,” Hadaway said. “It helps to have so many great people on the teams where you can say you love that sport.”
Last year’s softball success for W.S. Neal was great, Hadaway said. During the softball season, she said the team made their mark in school history and they surprised a lot of teams.
“A lot of those teams didn’t think we would be as good as we were,” she said. “The team and coaches did their part to make it all happen. We spent many long hours after school working on defense and hitting and it all paid off in the end. This next year, we are going to be a younger team but with so much potential. We need to keep up the hard work and build after each practice, knowing our weaknesses and correcting them.”
So why has Hadaway seen so much success on the mound lately for W.S. Neal?
“I take pitching very personnel,” she said. “I enjoy being able to control the game, which you are capable of while pitching. Last year on the mound, I think the reason I had so much success just comes from practice. I have been taught all my life that practice makes perfect and it really does. Pitching all the time where you can’t throw the ball wrong instead of throwing the right one only once, really helped when good hitters came up to bat.”
Another thing that has aided in her success is during the summer, Hadaway plays on a travel ball team.
“My travel team is called the Bama Babes from Montgomery,” Hadaway said. “It is an 18-and-under team, which means that a lot of the girls I play with, have already played college ball. I started playing with them last summer when they needed another pitcher. Taylor Guthrie (recent T.R. Miller graduate) was on the team and suggested I try out for them. We basically travel in the southeast and all over Alabama.”
The team also has been out of the state for big tournaments. Last year and this year, the qualified to attend the Hall of Fame tournament in Oklahoma City.
“This year we placed fourth in the tournament and were really pleased with that,” Hadaway said. “It is really neat to play on the same field that the College World Series is played on. That was a lot of fun. We have also been privileged to play, both years, in the National Tournament. In this tournament, the best of the best travel from all across America to compete in a week long tournament for the title of the ASA Champions.” Hadaway said playing on the travel team has helped her tremendously in the school ball season.
“During the summer, you face all these hitters who have signed to play in college somewhere—whether it be Auburn or Alabama or a Division II school,” she said. “They all share the same work ethic to become the best of the best. I am just honored to play on the same team with them and against them.”
While she has seen great success in the school setting, the softball field and the volleyball court, Hadaway said none of this is more important to her or even possible if it was not for her Christian faith.
“The Lord helps me each day keep grounded into what is important,” she said. “God has blessed me greatly. I have been fortunate to be able to do all things I enjoy doing. That is what I am most thankful for.”
Hadaway is the only child of Dennis and Sonya Hadaway.