SP Haylei Plummer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Plummer leads Lady Tiger team by deed and voice

By Angie Ledbetter

Haylei Dawn Plummer, aka PK, is known not only for her talent as a ball player for the defending 5A State Championship team but also for her voice.

Her team spirit for the South Panola Lady Tiger Fastpitch Softball team shows every minute she is on and off the field. The third baseman senior has played all four years as a Lady Tiger, proudly wearing No. 5 and showing off the championship ring on her finger she won last year.

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She has the second highest base hit percentage this season going into the state championship games. Her on base percentage is .441 and her slugging percentage is .533. She has 24 runs, 42 hits including nine doubles and three triples.

Plummer gives God all the glory for winning last year.

“It took Jesus for us to get there. We give Him all the glory for everything whether it’s winning or losing. Without Him, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. It was amazing and something that I had never felt before. I wear my ring every day.”

The spirited player leads her team to a chant before every home game to protect their house. She made it up to pump the team before their games played at Lady Tiger field.

“Will you protect this house? I will!”

“Will you protect this house? I will!”

“Whose house is this? Our house!”

“Whose house is this? Our house!”

“Are my dogs in the house? Bark, bark, bark!”

“Are my dogs in the house? One, two, three Lady Tigers!”

“Saying ‘I will’ together means a lot as a team and not just a lot of words going everywhere.  It has helped us at home.  We hadn’t lost a game at home in two years until the last Saturday. We have to show off a little bit for the home town crowd.”

Plummer said she got the idea from one of their assistant coaches last year, John Davis.

“He made a little check that we had to sign out that said, my team I give everything, and we had to sign it at the bottom. That sort of carried it on for everybody to remember this is our house and we have to protect it.”

Playing ball since the age of five, Plummer said it gives her things to do like work with the team, make really good friends, and get to go to college with some of them.

She loves playing third base and has played every position except pitcher.

“I like third base a lot,” she said. “When I’m in the outfield, there isn’t a lot of action but I’m right up in it at third base.”

Plummer tries to be a leader on the team but her philosphy is that each team member is a leader.

“If someone is down, I try my best to encourage them,” Plummer said. “Sometimes a player will get down on herself and everybody starts cheering her on. I tell her that she is number one and that’s why Coach Hicks put her there.”

The seniors on the team are very close. They have been playing since t-ball and have played on the same team and against each other.

“Casi (Brooks) is the catcher and she is awesome,” said Plummer. “Her throw downs are good. Kasey (Kelsay) on second is like my sister. Ellen (Farrish) on first is crazy.  I’ve been with Whitney (Kiihnl)since I was little. Haley (Hood) is like my little sister too; she is so small.

“Kayla (Roden) is the bomb,” Plummer continued. “She’s crazy and likes High School Musical. She can make you laugh. Bethany (Moore) goes to church with me. We hang out a lot and I go to her house.  We make cookies, eat them and watch movies.”

There is another player on the team special to Plummer, her sister Hillari.

The younger Plummer, a freshman, plays shortstop.

“It’s very special to have that and I like it,” she said. “When people see our backs, they say 35, 53.

“With Hillari as my shortstop, that side is strong,” she said. “At the beginning of the year we had to put a shortstop there that I had never played with before. All of my high school years I played with Hillari as my shortstop. We know what each other is thinking without saying anything.

“She’ll back me up when I get it and I back her up or stand in front of her in case she drops the ball. When I’m down she cheers me up and when she’s down I try to cheer her up.”

Plummer said head coach Ashleigh Hicks has taught them responsibility.

“She is awesome,” Plummer said. “Every day we have to wear a specific type of clothes. She teaches us to put God first because without Him we wouldn’t be able to do anything. She makes us work hard on the field. Even after practices and games, we have to stay over to get the field ready. She has taught us a lot. I think every girl has improved tremendously in their game in all areas.”

Hicks is also known for is motivation.

“Say I am not doing well. She will pull up a junior varsity player and put her in my place. She will tell me, ‘I’ll put that younger player in that has more heart.’ That is motivation for us when she does that.”

Addressing the two-year field, Plummer said it has been a lot of hard work but it has been worth it.

One day Plummer had to stay an extra 35 minutes to drag it.

“Coach Hicks tells us that it’s our field and we have to do it,” she said. “She says that teaches us responsibility.”

Plummer said the just finished season was harder because they were the defending state champions and everyone wanted to beat them.

“Last year everybody didn’t know if we were any good or not,” she said. “This year they are waiting to beat us. Everybody goes after us. Even the teams that aren’t very good play their hardest against us. They want to beat us just to say that they beat South Panola, the 5A State Champions. We couldn’t just sit back like we did last year. We had to step it up because of who we are.”

As far as the tough teams go, Plummer thinks that Horn Lake has been the toughest.

“Tupelo was a bad game but congratulations to them. Every year that we’ve played Horn Lake they’ve been great. Some of my friends from summer ball play on that team. I think they’ll be awesome next year. Coach Hicks told us that playing them is like playing a state championship game.”

Saturday, April 26, the Lady Tigers lost their first game to Southaven. This was the team’s first loss on the new field in the two years. Plummer said she dealt with losing by thinking “Go forward and not backwards.”

“If you can handle life and gain from it, don’t get down and sad thinking you can’t ever win again,” she said. “Just stay up and try to beat them the next time.”

The Lady Tigers won games one and three in the series against Southaven to play in the State Championship for the second year in a row.

Plummer thinks putting the will of God first is the key to a repeat.

Giving God all the credit for her success, Plummer talked about another person who has inspired her: her dad, Bro. Damon.

“He pushes me even when I don’t want to do it,” she said. “He’s always been there for me. He has been my coach or part of my teams since I played t-ball.”

Plummer said she does not think her parents have ever missed a game.  She is also the daughter of Brandie.

After graduation, fastpitch will still be a big part of Plummer’s life.  She’ll attend Mississippi College in Clinton on a full paid scholarship to play ball along with her teammate Casi Brooks.