The Valdosta Daily Times
After unofficially breaking nearly every softball school-record at Brooks County High School, Shelby Hiers is being rewarded for her hard work and high skill-level. On Thursday, Hiers signed a national letter of intent to play college softball at Division I Arkansas in front of a family, friends, teammates and teachers.
“It is a big deal for Brooks County,” Lady Trojan head coach Josh Price said. “Shelby is very deserving of everything she is getting. She is a great kid, a great student-athlete and an all-around great person. She is definitely deserving.”
Hiers said the city of Fayetteville made her feel like home and that the coaches’ strong Christian backgrounds made Arkansas an easy choice.
“The city around Arkansas was more of a home feeling; it was kind of laid back,” said Hiers, who grew up rooting for Florida State. “The coaches were Christians and real strong in faith. I feel like I could fit in.”
While Brook County finished with just an 8-15 record this season, Hiers was the bright spot for the Lady Trojans. She was voted the Region 1-AA Player of the Year after hitting .706 with seven homeruns, 30 runs batted, 31 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.
“She is what made us go,” Price said. “If Shleby was in a little slump, we were in a little of a slump. But she is definitely what makes us go.”
Heading into the season, teams knew of Hiers’ skill level and opposing coaches did their best go get around her with as little of damage as possible. But, unlike in baseball, a team cannot intentionally walk a player in softball. Teams must pitch to the every player with the catcher in a squatted position. With these being the case, Hiers took advantage of the pitches she received.
“We were in Baconton in a tournament (this year) and you know teams were trying to pitch around her as best as they could,” Price explained. “But, she was still able to hit the ball. She was hitting balls that were supposed to be outside and she kept hitting them over the fence. She finished the weekend with three homeruns.”
Along with being named the region’s top player this year, Hiers has a long list of accomplishments she will be taking to Fayetteville next August, including: Brooks County MVP all four years in high school, First Team All-Region catcher, Junior All-Region Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-State catcher, All-Region Player of the Year and All-State in the Georgia Dugout Club.
Arkansas is hoping Hiers can build a long list of accomplishments within the Razorbacks program, too.
Last year, Arkansas finished with a 33-29 record (7-21 in SEC), missing out on the NCAA tournament. Heirs hopes she can make an impact and help lead the Razorbacks to wins in one of the toughest softball conferences in the nation, which includes reigning national champion Alabama.
“It is going to be fun,” said Hiers, who is currently a member of the North Florida Troy White traveling softball team. “I’m ready to face all the big pitchers.”
Hiers has an opportunity to make an impact early, too. When she enrolls in classes next fall, she will immediately start competing for the starting catcher position. She had the opportunity to enroll a semester early and begin her college career this upcoming spring, but she chose to enroll in the fall so she can finish out her senior year with friends at Brooks County High.
“They’re expecting me to come in and start two games in the three-game series,” Hiers said. “They’re expecting me to catch most of the games. I had the chance to enroll early, but I just wanted to stay here and finish high school with all my friends.”
Regardless of when she enrolls at Arkansas, Heirs will likely become a household name throughout the Southeastern Conference and possibly the country.