Baylor School junior Haley Andrus has accepted a scholarship offer to continue her softball career at the University of Kentucky.
Tad Andrus, Haley's father and summer coach on the Tennessee Fury '95 team, said Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson has kept up with his daughter since seeing her play when she was 13. Haley said she took her official visit earlier this month and toured the campus for the first time.
"The main thing that probably made my decision for me was the way the team was," she said. "I'd never met any of them, and right out of the gate they were all nice and treating me like I was already on the team. They knew who I was, and everybody seemed like they really enjoyed being there."
Baylor coach Kelli Smith said Andrus got off to a slow start last spring but began picking up her offensive game in late April. That carried over into May, when the Lady Red Raiders won their second consecutive Division II-AA state championship.
Andrus finished the season with a .441 average with six homers, 12 doubles, 35 RBIs and 43 runs scored.
"She hits good, solid, hard line drives," Smith said. "She's also been very clutch in those two-out situations when you need to score. She hits the ball in the power alleys and sometimes powers it over the fence."
Coach Andrus said his daughter was a middle-of-the-order batter for the Fury like she was at Baylor and has routinely had a batting average better than .400 for him. He said he played her at third base exclusively this past season.
She began Baylor's season playing catcher because of an injury to Cassi Pickett. When Pickett returned, Andrus moved to third, which is where she's projected to play in college.
But Smith believes it's the ability to swing the bat that mainly got her noticed by college coaches. She said she knew Andrus had the potential to be a special player when in offseason workouts as a sixth-grader she showed the ability to hit home runs off high school varsity pitching.
"It's always been Haley's dream to play at the SEC level," Smith said. "She's had a goal in sight and she's gone after it. She's very dedicated year round to her hitting workouts. You're not going to outwork her."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.