By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
Sardis High School senior Payton Golden is preparing for her sixth season as the starting second baseman for the Sardis varsity team.
Next year, Golden hopes to be starting at second for Snead State, as she signed a letter of intent to play for the Lady Parsons on Feb. 5.
“I tried out for Snead, and when they called me, I didn’t want to try out anywhere else,” Golden said. “That’s the place I wanted to be. I wanted to stay close to home, and I wanted to start out little. I hope to go onto something bigger. I’m sad to be leaving (Sardis), but I’m excited to start softball there.”
Golden started playing softball as a 4-year-old.
Michael and Patrice Golden didn’t give their daughter’s career much of a chance back then.
“I remembered Mom and Dad telling me they said I’d never be a softball player, because I would always sit down in the dirt and just play in it,” Golden said. “I’d put dirt in my hat and put it on my head and just let it all fall down, and Dad said that girl would never make a softball player. But we worked hard at it and I played travel ball every summer, and I’m glad to be where I am.”
Golden helped the Lions record a 36-15-2 record during her junior season. She batted .348 with 44 runs, 57 hits, 14 doubles, one triple, 10 walks and 40 RBIs. She struck out only six times in 164 at-bats.
In 2013, Sardis won its second Etowah County Tournament championship, captured its first area tournament crown and advanced to the state tournament for the second time.
“It would be really nice to go back to state and place higher than we’ve ever placed,” Golden said. “I’d like to win it, but I’d just like to go, I’d like to be there.”
Sardis head softball coach Mary Beth Gilliland is pleased to have Golden in her lineup for one more season.
“Payton is a great player that works hard,” Gilliland said. “She is expected to step in as a leader and I expect a lot of things out of her this year. We are very excited for her.”
Former Snead State head coach Lisa Bright, who recruited Golden, has turned the Lady Parson program over to Tracy Grindrod.
“Payton tried out, and she did a really great job at second base,” Bright said. “She has a lot of great movement and hustle to the ball. She works really hard, and she also has a good bat and some good speed on the basepaths.
“We’re very happy to have her here from Sardis. It helps bring more local support to the games and things like that. We really don’t want to lose somebody local to another school, so we try to get what we can as quickly as possible.”
Bright is confident Golden could win the starting job at second base as a freshman.
“It would be nice to play second base because that’s where I’ve always played, but as long as I’m on the field, I don’t mind,” Golden said. “Of course, my defense is probably stronger than my hitting, but I always try to give 110 percent whenever I’m out there. My parents always told me to give my best, so that’s what I do, and I guess that’s what got me to where I am.”
Golden expressed appreciation for her family’s support of her career.
“My parents have never missed a game, ever,” she said. “They’ve always pushed me to be the best that I can be. They’ve always been the first ones out there to help me when I needed help, or to be out there just pushing me and cheering me on.”