CRESTVIEW — Former Crestview High School softball player Hannah Day has taken the next step in her softball career.
Day, a sophomore catcher at Northwest Florida State College, recently accepted a softball scholarship at Troy University. She'll enroll at Troy in the fall of 2014.
Day, the daughter of Dexter and Rhonda Day, chose Troy over Auburn University and Samford University.
"A lot of thought went into the decision because I had several options," she said. "None of them were bad choices, so it was really hard making that decision.
"I'm a home person and it was the closest to home. And it felt more comfortable than the other schools did. I felt I should be there."
Day said her older sister, Lauren, attends Troy. Hannah said she has frequently visited the school to hang out with her sister.
As a freshman catcher at Northwest Florida State, Hannah finished in the top three on the team in almost every offensive.
She led the Raiders with 77 hits and 187 at bats. She tied for the team lead with eight home runs, was second in batting average with a .412 average and second in runs batted in with 59.
Hannah said playing for Raider softball coach Jack Byerly will help her as she moves to Division I softball in the Sunbelt Conference.
"The transition will be easier because I know if I can handle coach Byerly I can handle anybody," she said. "He's tough, but he's a good coach, he really is.
"Everything he does, he does it to get us to the next level."
Byerly isn't the only tough coach she has had to put up with through the years.
Dexter Day, a former college and minor league baseball player, admits he has been tough on Hannah.
"She's put in a lot of time (working on the field and in the weight room) and she's had to put up with me too," Dexter said. "I'm not just the easiest person to play for. I think looking back on it, and she can speak for herself, but she's glad that she did what she did to get to where she's at today."
Hannah has embraced her father's coaching.
"Having him at the games helps a lot because he is always helping me no matter what I do," she said. "During the Christmas break we are going to be out there working and getting better all the time, because you can always get better.
"He picks me apart every time I'm up to bat and every play I make. He's always videoing me. He's always correcting me, which is good, because I always need it."
The catcher is always considered the field leader on a softball or baseball team and Hannah enjoys that mental aspect of the game.
I like being vocal on the field and trying to be a leader," she said. "If you are quiet, they (the teammates) are not going to look to you for help.
"I like being out there and taking charge on the field behind the plate."
Stepping out of his role as Hannah's dad and into the role of coach, Dexter assessed her game and what she brings to the diamond.
"She's strong, a hard worker, committed," he said. She's a coach's player. She's the kind of player coaches like.
"She's my daughter, but I'm going to talk to you as a coach. She's that person you can depend on to be at practice every day with a great attitude. She's going to come to work every day. She's going to give her best all the time and she's not going to go out and do something stupid and hurt the team."
When asked, Dexter also was quick to list some areas of Hannah's game where she can improve.
Among those things were improving her bat speed, as she will see faster pitching at Troy than she's seen at Northwest Florida State. He also said she needs to work on hitting the outside pitch that might be a little away from her.
Defensively, Dexter said Hannah should continue to work on the things that have gotten her this far, such as blocking the ball in front of the plate and getting her throws off quicker when trying to throw out a base runner.
Stepping back into the role of dad, Dexter expressed his pride in what Hannah has accomplished.
"I'm just happy for her to be able to experience what I've experienced (being successful)," he said. "It's not about softball. Let's take softball away from it and you've got the work ethic that you've done this. You will carry that (work ethic) the rest of your life.
"You are going to be dependable and the kind of person you want to have working for you. I'm proud of her. I'm very proud of her."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.