More than a number
Published 6:45 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2011
She was the Washington Daily News Softball Co-Player of the Year last season as she wrapped up her prep career by leading Williamston to the NCHSAA state tournament by smashing clutch hit after clutch hit while using her vacuum-like glove to gobble up any ball hit within a mile of her second base position.
Cassie Harrell dominated in the batter’s box and on the diamond as she hit .406 and drove in a team-high 24 runs for a Tigers team that placed fourth in the state. Despite those gaudy numbers, all college recruiters could focus on was one: 5-10. That would be Harrell’s height, way too tall for a middle infielder in scouts’ minds.
A fantastic athlete, Harrell was a three-time WDN All-Area first-teamer at second base and was also chosen as a first-team power forward after helping the Tigers basketball team place second in the state with a 29-1 record her senior year. Harrell’s lateral quickness, combined with her lanky frame and stellar softball instincts, allowed her to cover a tremendous amount of ground from her second base position. On top of that, her knack for crushing balls allowed the Tigers to get a power bat from a position that is generally slated for the bunters and table setters of the world. However, it just didn’t seem to matter, all anyone saw was 5-10.
After high school Harrell had offers to play softball but only if she changed positions. Finally, she just decided she would change sports and accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Brunswick CC.
“I would have played softball, I’m so much better at softball,” Harrell said. “It just got in my head that I was too big and that I wasn’t able to do much.”
While the thought of being too big never left her head, neither did her love for softball. Around May Harrell decided that she was done living nearly three-and-half-hours away from home playing the wrong sport, and chose to leave Brunswick to tryout for the Pitt CCC softball team.
The arrangement was faciliated by Harrell’s former Williamston teammate Heather Jackson, a former star shortstop who now plays outfield for the Bulldogs.
“Heather contacted and told me that Coach (William) Bailey heard you were coming back home and was interested in you but he needs to see you tryout,” Harrell said.
Despite not playing softball for nearly a year, Harrell picked right up where she left off by mashing pitches and scooping grounders.
“They worked me out at short, second and third,” Harrell said. “I don’t really care where I play but I’m hoping to get second.”
No matter what positions she ends up playing, Harrell has already gotten what she really wants, a fair chance to prove she can play in the middle infield on the college level. Now it’s up to her to earn it.
“That’s exactly how I feel. I feel like I can go out there and hopefully earn it,” Harrell said. “Now I’m just going to have to show people that I can do it.”