PIRATES: The Adna Junior Has Been Sharpening Her Skills This Summer With the Washington Ladyhawks Breer 16U
ADNA — Adna junior Haley Rainey was sitting in her sixth-period leadership class on March 13 when the rumors started to swell.
One of her classmates entered the class and said he heard something in the office about all the schools in Washington state closing down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The class, full of mostly seniors and a couple juniors, didn’t believe it — at first.
It wasn’t until the next period when teachers officially announced that in-school learning would be closed until April 27. Adna softball coach Bruce Pocklington asked Rainey, the Pirates’ ace pitcher, to have all her teammates take their bags out of the locker room.
“It was hectic,” Rainey said.
The news came just days after the Pirates softball team, the defending 2B state champions, had played in a jamboree in Montesano. Six innings of live ball is all they got. It began to sink in to the players that they may lose the entire season. Those fears were confirmed on April 6 when Gov. Jay Inslee announced school closures through the end of the school year. Spring sports were over.
It was a disheartening blow for the Pirates, who were primed to defend their state title from a year ago. Returning was Rainey, the reigning 2B State Player of the Year who also was the Central 2B League MVP and The Chronicle’s All-Area MVP. As a sophomore ace, Rainey mowed down 39 batters with a 1.40 ERA in 20 innings of league play. She was equally deadly at the plate, hitting .684 with a .703 OBP, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 11 doubles and three triples.
Joining her again were seniors Skye Snow and Payton Aselton, a pair of first-team All-Area selections. Snow, a pitcher and first baseman, batted .536 at the plate and struck out 30 batters in 30 innings with a 1.75 ERA on the mound. Aselton, a shortstop, batted .690 with a .769 OBP in her first season playing ball since middle school.
The trio, along with a bevy of other experienced teammates, were stunned that their season was over before it started. They had just two weeks of practice together before it was all over.
“It was hard,” Rainey said. “We had a good team, we were so excited to be there and we were really hungry to do it again. That was our big goal was to repeat. It was hard having that drive to do that kind of cut off for our team. We definitely were all really upset.”
Rainey didn’t stay down for long. Her travel team, the Washington Ladyhawks Breer 16U squad, has played in two tournaments this summer, one in Idaho at the end of June and one in Adna. Most of the tourneys, those scheduled to be in California, Oregon and Colorado, were canceled due to the pandemic. Nationals, along with most of the local in-state tourneys, were canceled, as well. The one bright spot is that the team has been able to practice and compete in inter-team scrimmages the past couple months to stay sharp.
Rainey, luckily, has the luxury of already having verbally committed to a university: Idaho State University. She definitely had options, as well. When recruiting for her opened on Sept. 1, 2019, Rainey was at her aunt’s wedding and received three emails from coaches on the east coast asking her to fill out their recruiting form and attend some camps. Before long she was talking with six east coast schools and had one other offer.
But it was Division-I Idaho State University, located in Pocatello, Idaho, a town of 57,000 in the southeast corner of the state, that stole her heart.
“Pocatello is this gorgeous town right in the middle of these hills, not far from Grand Teton National Park,” Rainey said. “It’s a smaller college and the coaches feel like family to me.”
Rainey was nervous to call the coaches when they handed her their business card at a tournament last summer.
“I remember after talking to coach Cristal Brown I felt so much better and so much more at ease,” Rainey said.
Rainey still has the card they handed her. It’s sitting on her cork board next to her bed where she keeps all her goals on paper. Her freshman year, she wrote her goal of wanting to play Division-I softball and pinned it to that board. Before that, Rainey had seen a commercial stating that less than 2 percent of high school athletes would go on to play Division-I sports.
“That was always the dream, but never a goal, and then it became a goal my freshman year,” Rainey said. “That’s when I really started trying to imagine myself doing it. To work as hard as I do you have to be what you want to be. So I imagined myself sitting there and signing that letter with my pen.”
She’s on the brink of achieving her dream and her goal, all that’s left to do is physically sign the Letter of Intent, which will take place on National Signing Day on Nov. 11, 2020.