Edisto outfielder Cassie Hayden will now be able to go into her senior season this coming spring for the Cougars knowing where she will be headed next.
On Friday, Hayden signed a national letter-of-intent to play softball for Florence-Darlington Technical College, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.
Hayden only recently made the decision to join the Lady Stingers program, but she is glad to know which direction her immediate future is taking her, both in the classroom and on the diamond.
She had been in contact with the FDTC program for several months, but also considered an offer from Spartanburg Methodist College.
"Florence has the degree program I want and I really enjoyed my visit when I went there," Hayden said. "I went to a practice that they had, and with that being the first time that I visited, I kind of fell in love with the place and the softball program.
"It's not that far from home. So, I'm going to keep following this year's softball team and try to go to a few of their games this coming season. The team atmosphere is great and I love talking to them. Their team feels like family. I'm really excited about it and I'm happy that somebody wanted me. There was a time when I was iffy about playing in college, due to some health issues. But, I got my head right and now I know where I'm going."
Hayden is the daughter of Eric and Kelly Hayden. She is a member of student council at Edisto, is a member of the National Honor Society and is an honor roll student.
Hayden is now the third member of the 2017 Edisto team to sign a college softball scholarship. Caitlin Mills signed to play at Claflin University and Emily Phillips signed to play at USC Beaufort.
In her junior campaign, Hayden helped the Cougars post a 9-14 record, including a win against Class 4A Beaufort and a three-game run in SCHSL Class 3A playoffs. Edisto sandwiched a playoff win against Manning between two losses to May River. The second loss, which eliminated the Cougars from contention, was only by a 4-3 score. Through the regular season, Hayden batted for a .395 average, including 13 RBI, 3 doubles and a team-high 4 triples.
"We've had a good program here at Edisto, and I'm really excited about this year and hopefully making it farther in playoffs," Hayden said.
FDTC was ranked as high as No. 10 this past season in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll, staying in the Top 20 for most of the season. The Lady Stingers went to the JJCAA World Series for the first time in 2016.
Now in his 12th year at FDTC, Lady Stingers head coach Heber Watson - who helped start the FDTC program in 2005 - has led the Stingers to three Region X regular-season titles, two Region X tournament runner-up finishes and a region-district tournament championship in 2016, which qualified them for the NJCAA Softball World Series for the first time in school history, but he knows the best is yet to come for the young program.
Adrianna Weatherford, a member of the FDTC 2016 NJCAA World Series team, is the assistant coach for the Lady Stingers.