FARMINGTON — Haley Parson has been one of the most consistent players on one of the state’s best softball teams for years. And on Tuesday, the Piedra Vista senior took the next step in her softball career by signing a national letter of intent to play at Yavapai College.
Yavapai is located in Prescott, Ariz., and competes in the Arizona Community College Athletics Conference, which is part of Division I of the National Junior College Athletics Association.
“It just felt right from the very beginning,” Parson said of her decision to sign with Yavapai. “The first time I went down to Prescott, it just felt like that is where I’m supposed to be. I really liked the coaching and felt comfortable around the team, so that really sold it for me.”
Yavapai won NJCAA national titles in 2009 and 2011, but canceled its 2014 season after the team’s roster listed nine eligible players one week before the season was set to begin.
Last season, Yavapai finished 31-27 under first-year head coach Doug Eastman.
“Coming from a successful program and heading into another one is something I’m very proud of, and I’m looking forward to going there,” Parson said. “But it’s not always about winning. It’s about the experiences and loving what you do, and I truly felt like I would love playing softball at Yavapai.”
Last season, Parson, the team’s starting catcher, helped the Lady Panthers to a 17-16 record and a 5A state tournament appearance, where the team was eliminated by eventual champion Valencia 8-7 in extra innings, ending PV’s hopes of a 10th straight state title.
“They (Yavapai) are going to get someone who has a great knowledge of the game, a hard worker and probably most importantly, someone with a ton of experience,” PV head coach Kevin Werth said of Parson. “She’s a seasoned player, and hopefully she’ll be able to contribute right away.”
Parson has been on PV’s varsity team for five seasons.
She cracked the varsity roster as an eighth grader, serving as a role player. As a freshman, she gained more playing time in right field, then took over as catcher during her sophomore season.
Last season, Parson was one of PV’s best at the plate, batting .393 with a team high 38 runs batted in, while posting a .987 fielding percentage.
“One thing she’s really learned how to do is command the game and call the game. She’s learned how to study hitters and helps the pitchers out in that aspect,” Werth said. “At the plate, she has the power to hit one out (of the park) every time she’s up.”
Parson will remain at catcher at the next level, and said she’ll have a chance to play right away if she can prove herself to the coaching staff during offseason workouts.
She hasn’t committed to a major yet, but said she’s looking into film and media studies.
But before she puts on a Yavapai uniform, Parson has one goal in mind: return to the pinnacle of high school softball by bringing another state title to PV.
“Another blue trophy would be great,” Parson said. “I think I speak for the whole team when I say no one should forget about us. We will be out there, and we are striving for another state championship.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.