|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Shelby Graybill (center) signs her letter of intent to play softball at the University of Louisville on Friday.|
The time and dedication paid off Friday as she signed to play softball at the University of Louisville. Graybill has started at first base, third base and catcher in the last six seasons.
"Shelby has put in her time on and off the field," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Head Coach. "She has hours and hours of work outside normal team training. She is a prime example of someone creating her own success with hard work and passion for the game of softball. She fell in love with this game at an early age, and the passion continues to grow as she moves closer to the next level. I couldn't be more proud of her hard work and dedication to our program. The University of Louisville is getting a great player and young lady."
Graybill owns a career batting average of more than .400 and has been among the top players in Kentucky in the past two seasons in home runs and doubles. Graybill ended her junior season at an astounding .586 clip with 12 home runs and 50 runs batted in. In the past three years, Graybill has struck out just three times.
Graybill orginally committed to Bowling Green (Ohio) but changed her mind. A coaching change played a big role in that decision. She can now focus on her senior season.
"This is a huge relief," Graybill said. "I've looked at this my entire life. This is my dream school. This is everything I've ever wished for."
Graybill hopes to help Highlands back to the state tournament after helping the Ladybirds there in 2014 as a sophomore following the program's first-ever 9th Region championship. Highlands went 1-2 beating Estill County on the first day then losing to Owensboro Apollo and Ashland. Graybill belted two home runs in the loss to Apollo. Highlands finished 27-13 that year.
Highlands hoped to repeat as region champs. The Ladybirds had Notre Dame down 3-0 but the Pandas used a late rally to win 5-4 finishing the year 24-9.
"We need to spend time in practice going over the game in general," Graybill said. "We need to make sure our players are ready. I support everyone on our team. I know every other senior does as well. That's what we need to have."
Highlands finished 12-17 when Graybill was in the sixth grade. But the Ladybirds rose to 18-12 her freshman year.
"In sixth grade, I can tell you we were the underdogs in everything," Graybill said. "We were the (team) everyone was going to beat up on. Going into my senior year and having something that is known all over the state. We are known as a team that is going to go places. They are major accomplishments."
Graybill still plans to major in education. She plans to coach upon graduation.
Louisville is coached by 16-year veteran Head Coach Sandy Pearsall. Louisville finished 36-22 last year and 14-7 in the American Athletic Conference. The Cardinals won the tournament championship.
Highlands opens the season March 15 at Simon Kenton. Game time is 5:30 p.m.