When Michaela Boyd thought about her chances of playing college softball, she thought she would be "one of those players that got overlooked and never got a chance to play."
The Northwest Cabarrus senior outfielder believed Anderson College was committed to her last summer, but she said its interest faded away. Out of the blue, Catawba College in Salisbury offered her a tryout, which soon turned into a scholarship offer.
Boyd's softball career has as many plot twists as a thrilling mystery novel. Having the opportunity to play in college became her fairytale ending.
Boyd got started late in the sport, compared to many elite players. She began playing recreational softball as a 12-year-old, only to spend more time with a friend who was already playing.In her first years of play, Boyd was a right-handed-hitting shortstop. By the end of her high school career, she had become a left-handed-hitting outfielder.
"When I started to get older and girls started hitting harder," said Boyd, "... I decided I wanted to move back a little bit when I moved up to travel ball."
Boyd played recreationally for two years before she started taking softball seriously enough to join a traveling team. She played at Northwest Cabarrus Middle for two years and joined the high school junior varsity team as a freshman.
The Trojans' JV team went undefeated her first season. Boyd's speed on the base paths impressed coach Lori Treiber enough that she promoted the freshman to the varsity for the conference tournament and state playoffs.
Boyd got her first taste of varsity play by serving as a courtesy runner for the pitchers and catchers when they reached base. She was disappointed that half her sophomore season was spent in a similar capacity. Midway through, an injury to another player allowed her to crack the starting lineup.
Though she spent much of the season as a reserve, it was not a lost season. Boyd was making the transition from being a right-handed batter to being a slap hitter from the left side, where she could take better advantage of her speed.
While she didn't pick up on the new approach to hitting the ball in the high school season, Boyd started to catch on in the summer, when she played with her traveling team. By the time fall workouts started, Treiber noticed her improvement.
"There was a big difference in her," said Treiber. "She continued to work very hard in the fall. She was very focused, not only in slapping, but bunting and swinging away, too."
Boyd found a permanent home in center field, where she turned into an all-state player. She became a formidable leadoff hitter, leading the team with a .405 batting average.
Late last summer, after her first college scholarship bid fell through, Boyd accepted a tryout offer from Catawba. Coincidentally, her traveling team was playing in Salisbury on the same weekend.
Boyd arrived too late for the group tryout, so the coaches gave her a one-on-one look instead. They obviously were impressed, and Boyd signed her national letter of intent in November.
This season, Boyd adjusted her batting stance, moving away from slapping to a more traditional approach. Her batting average slipped a bit, but the change is bound to help her adjust to college pitching.
Boyd continued to prove herself on the defensive end, being named the Trojans' defensive player of the year.
"She's a well-rounded kid," said Treiber. "She's good academically and athletically and socially. She will do very well in college, because she's not just an athlete."
Joe Habina is a freelance writer for Cabarrus News. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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