My Softball Rant


Left to right, Shea Parker, Samantha Booher and Mallory Reid living out their Murphey Candler softball glory days. Photo courtesy of Shea’s mom

Shea Parker, Staff Writer

I like to say softball was my first love. I started playing t-ball at the age of four and then at the age of six I advanced to softball and have been playing ever since. Not to brag or anything but I was pretty good at it from the start. Or at least that’s what my parents and their friends tell me.

I started getting even more validation from it when I started playing at Murphey Candler. I was recruited to play for the all-star team when I was seven. This all-star team was called the Cobras, and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I continued spending my summer and fall playing for the Cobras from the age of 7 to 10, and I met so many of my current friends through it.

In the softball world once you reach the age of 11 you basically have to figure out how seriously you are taking the sport. This is when most players decide to branch out and play for travel organizations. I made that decision and started playing for the 7th Inning Lady Royals, then the Atlanta Flames, and my current organization is the Lady Dukes. 

Once you start playing travel/club softball you are sort of expected to want to play in college. That’s the expectation. Which makes sense because the time and effort you have to put in once joining a club team is insane. For example, I only get about one free weekend a month while in season, and I also have team practice weekly, along with practicing by myself to get the reps that I need.

At the age of 14 I kind of made the decision that I wanted to play in college. I started researching schools, emailing coaches, and attending prospect camps. Making softball completely consumes my life. But, my life was completely different when I was 14. Softball was all I had. Due to COVID-19, softball was the only activity I was participating in and the only place I saw people so of course I loved it. It was something to do, and the only thing I had to do. I didn’t have school and there were no other social events going on. 

Currently though as a junior in high school I have a lot going on other than softball. Junior year is also a vital year for softball recruitment because it is when you start to get offers and the year that you can commit to a college. The issue this year for me personally is now two years after making the decision to play in college I’m questioning my choice. It’s hard to stay motivated for recruitment when there is so much pressure and competition in the process. It’s also hard when you aren’t on any coach’s radar. 

It’s especially hard because junior year is a vital academic year, many people call it the hardest year academically and  it’s also the year your grades count the most. Having softball on top of this makes prioritizing things in my life so hard.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love softball, I just hate the recruitment process, and honestly I’m mad at the recruitment process. This process is making me question basically everything I’ve known about softball since I first started playing. I still love competing and playing and even practicing. It’s just the fact that occasionally a coach is watching, or I need to be posting my highlights and the fact that I need to have good stats that stresses me out. Now I’m so focused on how well I’m playing that I’m forgetting to actually have fun. One bad weekend now makes me question everything, and I’m pretty sure this is a universal experience based on what I’ve seen from people I’ve grown up playing with, and even from people I’ve observed at tournaments.

Softball now is so focused on the numbers and the statistics, which is honestly understandable because playing softball is basically your job at the collegiate level. I’m sure my mindset would be completely different if I actually was recruited. Either way, I just miss the time in my life when softball was just a game.