Hatley’s Harley Gaston played first base and filled the designated hitter role for the Lady Tigers.

Hatley first baseman/designated hitter Harley Gaston has been playing softball since she could pick up a bat.

“I started a year early in T-ball, and my dad has always coached, so I have been out there since I could walk,” Gaston said.

Gaston played slow-pitch softball all six years also, participated in the “Gridiron Girls” on Friday nights, helping out the football team on the sidelines and received the Heart of the Tiger Award in slow-pitch.

She named winning back-to-back Monroe County fast-pitch tournaments in 2018 and 2019 as one of the biggest accomplishments for the Lady Tigers during her high school career.

“It was so much fun, and those are big rivalries for us,” Gaston said. “I think the first year, we were loaded and it wasn’t too much of a surprise, but last year, we surprised some other teams.”

Gaston plans on attending Itawamba Community College in the fall and from there, she will go on to Mississippi University for Women to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing. After that, she plans on finishing out a degree to become a nurse anesthetist.

Gaston’s favorite on-field memories include times at practice and her favorite memories off the field are the bus rides to and from away games.

“My favorite memory on the field is when Coach (Chris) George was trying to swing so hard that he mostly swung out of his shoes and fell at practice,” Gaston joked. “Off the field, my best memories are riding the bus, playing music and singing our lungs out. We had this one song, ‘Shut Up and Fish,’ That we always sang.”

Gaston called George “one of the best coaches she ever had.”

“He was like our second dad, and I am really going to miss him,” she said. “I was excited that he came back because I started with him and really wanted to finish with him.”

Praise for teammates

To her fellow seniors on the fast-pitch team, Emilee Slade and Callie Sloan, Gaston wanted to praise their leadership on and off the field.

“It was sad that we lost so much of our season. Most of our games got canceled at the beginning due to rain, and then we got shut down,” she said. “We had a big group in our class at first, and then it ended up being just us three for fast-pitch. They are such good leaders and always put everyone before themselves. They make sure the young ones have everything they needed to know and are always there to make sure that everybody understands. I love them so much.”

Gaston encouraged her younger teammates to keep working hard and not take the game for granted.

“Don’t take any games or practices for granted, and always play every game 100 percent, practice with 110 percent. You don’t know when your last game will be,” she said. “This is probably the best group of girls. They are hard working, always listen and soak up everything you say.”

Editor’s note: The Monroe Journal is featuring spring sports seniors in its “Senior Spotlight” each week. To submit your senior, please contact Sports Editor Melissa Meador.

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