Front Runner

Softball standout Lauren Haywood will continue her academic and athletic career at Williams College.

Sophia Caruso, Staff Writer

For most North Allegheny students, participating in a sport is a normal part of their high school career. North Allegheny nurtures young athletes up into their final years of high school. However, only a select few of those athletes continue after high school. 

photo by Jim Whalen

Lauren Haywood has become a well-known name in girls’ softball over the past few years. She began playing softball when she was five years old, starting with slow-pitch then eventually moving to fast-pitch by the age of ten. 

Starting her softball career young, Haywood established a profound passion for the sport. 

“My dad introduced me to the sport at a very young age, but even back then, I knew I loved it,” she said. “He played baseball throughout his life and was eager to teach me.”

Softball has been a part of the Haywood household for quite some time. Lauren’s passion for softball wasn’t hard to establish, as it was something she grew up with. 

“During my freshman year of high school, I injured my hamstring pretty badly. I couldn’t play the field for the entire season, but I didn’t let it stop me,” she said.

Despite some of Haywood’s struggles during the kickstart of her softball career, she pursued her passion.

“I worked hard to improve my hitting, and I finished the season with a 0.423 batting average,” she said. “I even made the All-Section team as the designated hitter. Instead of letting my injury defeat me, I pushed through and came out a stronger player both physically and mentally.”

Haywood spends countless hours practicing softball and working on learning new skills. In every athlete’s career comes a time when they face a serious choice: continue the sport or call it quits? For Haywood, the choice wasn’t easy, but it has turned out to be worthwhile.

“I had always considered playing softball in college, but I was partly unsure and hesitant until COVID happened,” she said. “My junior season was taken from me, and I was devastated. The thought of only having one more season terrified me. I had grown up playing and loving the game, and it felt unreal that it was so close to being over. At that point, I knew that I wanted as much time to play as possible, so I began taking my recruiting more seriously.”

Haywood was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime to play at a collegiate level.

“I am committed to Williams College in Massachusetts, and I chose to go there because of the incredible academics and the equally amazing sports program,” she said. “I am able to study at a high level while also playing the sport that I love. I love the campus and the people, and I feel at home when I am there.”

The game has taught me that it’s okay to fall as long as you get back up again.”

— Lauren Haywood, softball senior

Although Haywood could have taken the chance to not continue softball in college, she is grateful for the choice she made considering all the sport has done for her.

“Softball has given me the chance to travel to many new states and meet new people,” she said. “Without softball, I never would have met the majority of my friends or made some of my favorite memories. I wouldn’t trade the experiences softball has given me for the world.”

With the amount of hard work she has put into this sport, Haywood is excited for her future ahead. All athletes face different challenges in their sports and learn new things along the way. Haywood has learned to accept failure and work through it.

“The biggest thing I have learned from softball is how to deal with failure,” she said. “Softball is a game of failure — even the best hitters fail six out of ten times. The game has taught me that it’s okay to fall as long as you get back up again. You have to take your mistakes and learn from them, instead of letting them get you down.”