The first three months of 2013 have been a whirlwind for Wingate University junior Hayley Whitley. The Piedmont High graduate has traveled to Ethiopia on a mission trip, released a music album and led her Wingate softball team early in the season.The talented musician grew up singing in Monroe’s Hopewell Baptist Church. She entered a talent search competition last fall that was put on by Lamon Records Nashville and the Gideon Film Festival. After winning the competition, Whitley earned a recording contract from Lamon Records and a trip to Nashville to record her album, “My Heart,” which was released on Feb. 26. The four-track collection includes covers of Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey” and Addison Road’s “This Little Light.”Family and friends helped Hayley celebrate the album’s release during a special gathering at a Mint Hill restaurant the night of the release. “Music is something that’s been important to everyone in my family,” says Whitley, who started singing at the age of 6. “It’s something that I have kept pursuing by singing in choir at church as a youth, and continuing throughout high school and college.” The psychology major has used her singing as a passion and a hobby, while continuing to keep her education and time on the softball diamond as the higher priorities. She recorded for her album during Wingate’s fall break last October. She says she’d like to record another album in the future.“I would like to become a professional singer one day, but I want to finish school and get a graduate degree before I pursue that full time,” Whitley said.Whitley was an all-state softball player at Piedmont, where she helped lead the Panthers to three conference titles. Since coming to Wingate, she has started in over 120 games at second base, in less than three full seasons, and played in all but one game.Whitley has struck out just 20 times in over 350 at-bats during her collegiate career, as of last Wednesday’s doubleheader at Lenoir-Rhyne. She went two-for-two with a career-high four RBIs and a run scored as Wingate beat Queens University on Feb. 24.“We have a great group of girls on the team who are working hard, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the season will bring,” Whitley said.First-year Wingate softball coach Lani Shaffer has seen many positives from Whitley’s album release.“It’s always fun to see one of your players receive this kind of recognition,” Shaffer said. “It has improved the camaraderie on the team because everyone is happy for Hayley to get her name out there and provide such positive publicity for the university.”As an upperclassmen on this year’s team, coach Shaffer says she has seen Whitley progress as a player, displaying some power as a hitter and improvement as a second baseman.Whitley hit the first home run of her college career this year against Francis Marion and followed that with a second homer at Armstrong.When the Wingate University School of Sports Sciences hosted National Girls and Women in Sport Day on Jan. 30, each female sport team nominated one athlete to serve as their representative. Whitley was chosen to represent the softball team and a panel of faculty and staff selected her as the overall award winner out of a prestigious group of other female athletes. Whitley’s passion for helping others led her to Ethiopia this past December on a church mission trip. She and others ministered to orphans and helped provide them with food.Hayley said she hopes to make a return trip soon.
Friday, Mar. 15, 2013
Second baseman has a lot on her plate
Hayley Whitley is playing a key role in helping Wingate University's softball team improve this season. WINGATE UNIVERSITY
Hayley Whitley isn't known as a power hitter, but recently the Wingate University junior has hit two home runs. WINGATE UNIVERSITY