Softball season never seems to end for Swartz Creek's Hayley Cruthers
FLINT, Michigan — The large crowd was the first thing that caught Hayley Cruthers' eyes.
High school softball games, even state-tournament contests, are mostly played in front of sparse gatherings.
The Swartz Creek rising sophomore and her father, Greg Cruthers, have taken in a few University of Michigan games the last two years.
The Wolverines’ state-of-the-art facility, Alumni Field, was also very appealing to the young Cruthers.
“They get to play on nice fields and in front of TV,” Hayley Cruthers said. “It seems real cool to have a lot of people watching you play.”
Ever since her first trip to Ann Arbor, the 14-year-old has been dedicating herself to perfecting her game so one day she can play in Division I, maybe even at Michigan.
“All the Division I games I’ve been to look like a blast,” Cruthers said. “I want to be just like them.”
Including her high school season and various non-school teams, Cruthers has played 90 softball games since April.
She was one of 26 players selected out of 272 participants, in eight different showcases, from Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Illinois.
The Academic All-Star Showcase will consist of skill evaluations, drills and games.
All of the showcases are put on by the Paramount Scouting Bureau.
In January, she will participate in the Queens of the Diamond Showcase at Kent State, where there are supposed to be 150 Division I and Division II coaches.
“Boys basketball and football are what get the majority of the scholarship dollars,” Greg Cruthers said. “They are more popular. The more exposure the better.”
Although it’s too soon to tell if her extreme dedication to her sport will earn her a Division I scholarship, the left-handed shortstop was voted the Dragons’ Most Valuable Player by her teammates after setting nine school single-season records.
The 5-foot-6 freshman set records for batting average (.447), on-base percentage (.513), slugging percentage (.750), extra-base hits (30), runs scored (50), hits (59), doubles (22), triples (six) and pitching victories (14).
According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, her 22 doubles are tied for the fifth most in state history.
With Cruthers leading the way, Swartz Creek posted a 22-16 record last spring, a significant improvement from its 17-22 mark in 2009.
She was a second-team All-Metro League pick before earning Division 1 All-District and All-Region honors.
“She’s a team player,” Greg Cruthers said of his daughter. “She would rather have her teammate hit the winning home run. She wants everyone to be successful.”
One would think that devoting so much time to one activity would burn a person out. Not Hayley Cruthers.
If fact, the exact opposite seems to happen. She appears to enjoy it more and more.
“I get more comfortable every time I step on the field, and it gets easier,” Hayley Cruthers said. “It’s really fun, and I love playing.”