Cornersville junior Haley Fagan proved that a small town girl can make it to the big stage of college athletics when she recently committed to play softball at the University of Tennessee.
Recruited primarily because of her prowess in the pitching circle, Fagan also received scholarship offers from Mississippi State and UT-Martin and received serious interest from SEC powers Alabama and Georgia, who both reached the semifinals of the 2009 College Softball World Series. In the end, Fagan narrowed her choices down to Mississippi State and Tennessee and picked the Lady Vols because of the career path she hopes to pursue once she leaves college and the proximity of UT's campus to her hometown.
"Tennessee has a nursing school and Mississippi State doesn't," said Fagan. "Plus I know some people up there and I didn't know anyone at Mississippi State. I was looking to stay closer to home so my family could watch me play. It was a hard decision between the two schools because both coaching staffs were really nice while they were recruiting me."
Under coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly, the Lady Vols have become one of college softball's top programs and have reached the College World Series three times during their eight-year tenure, which includes a runner-up finish in 2007 and third place finishes in the 2005 and 2006.
Although she will be joining one of the more talented rosters in the country, Fagan has been told by the Weeklys that she has the potential to contribute right away in the pitching circle.
"They think I can come in and pitch as a freshman," said Fagan. "They told me that they wouldn't have offered me a full scholarship if they didn't think I could contribute."
Fagan will be the number one starter on Cornersville's pitching staff this Spring and looks to lead CHS to a third straight Class A State Tournament berth after the Lady Bulldogs finished third each of the last two years.
"I think she'll do really well the next two years for us," said Cornersville softball coach Spencer Mitchell. She's always going to give you what she's got when she's out there. She has her mom's personality. You couldn't ask anyone to be a sweeter person, but underneath that skin is a competitor."
Along with possessing a fastball in the low 60s, Fagan has also mastered an assortment of off speed pitches and thinks Cornersville has the potential to once again contend for the State Title in 2010.
"There's definitely going to be some pressure now, but I'm going to pitch like I always have," said Fagan. "I want to win a State Championship this season. I believe we have the talent to win it all this year."
Having compiled an impressive 15-3 pitching record during her career at Cornersville, Fagan burst onto the recruiting scene this summer while playing for Team Worth Gold. Fagan was the staff ace for Team Worth Gold and finished the summer season with an ERA below 1.00 en route to guiding the Nashville based travel ball squad to the ASA National Championships.
Haley is also an accomplished basketball player and was named to the All-District 11-A and All-Region 6-A Teams last season as a sophomore while helping to lead the Lady Bulldogs to the State Tournament for the first time in the program's history. Following a strong showing during the AAU season over the summer, the 6'0" junior received some interest from women's college basketball power North Carolina before deciding to play softball at the next level.
In the classroom, Fagan currently sports a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the Cornersville Beta Club and Student Council along with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
If the rest of Fagan's CHS athletic career is as successful as the first two, the Lady Bulldogs basketball and softball teams should be in store for a couple more banner seasons.