As a freshman, Owen High School’s Jaiden Tweed burst onto the softball scene, striking out 201 batters and giving up only 23 runs in over 102 innings pitched.
By her sophomore season she verbally committed to playing college ball for Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. On Nov. 13, surrounded by friends and family in the media center at Owen, Tweed, now a senior, made it official.
The Owen senior signed a letter of intent to play softball for the Blue Hose, a NCAA Division I team which plays in the Big South Conference.
“It’s pretty surreal to finally sign because I’ve been committed to Presbyterian since my sophomore year,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a little while. So now that it’s official, it’s pretty awesome.”
Signing a letter of intent with a NCAA Division I school was literally a dream come true for Tweed.
“This has been a goal for me since I was eight,” she said. “I remember watching the College World Series on TV and thinking ‘I want to do that.’”
Tweed has been dominant on the mound for the Warlassies in three seasons with the team, striking out 545 batters in slightly more than 300 innings, while going 32-16 with a 1.71 earned run average in 50 appearances.
At the plate, in 56 games played for the Warlassies, Tweed is batting .475 with 69 RBIs and 11 home runs. She slugged 1.049 as a junior.
Her parents were emotional and excited about their daughter’s written commitment to Presbyterian College.
“She’s worked really hard,” said Tweed’s mother April. “She’s dedicated 14 years of her life to get to this spot. She’s sacrificed and missed things through the years to be out on the field competing.”
Tweed has played travel softball for a decade, or “almost every weekend during the summer and three months during the fall,” she said.
Her father Heath, who has helped his daughter develop her game since childhood, said the Blue Hose are getting a multi-faceted player.
“She can do so much on the field and that’s unusual,” he said. “That’s one thing that Presbyterian was interested in, having a player who could play the outfield, pitch, run well on the bases and hit for power. That’s what they’re getting in Jaiden.”
Also on hand for the signing were Tweed's longtime coaches Clay Thomas and Joey Valencia.
At the time of the signing, Tweed was only weeks removed from a trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 2017 2-A Women’s Individual Tennis State Championships Doubles Draw in Cary. Now she will focus on preparing for her last season of softball at Owen, which begins in the spring.
“We still have work to do,” Heath said of his daughter’s plans during the next few months. “She’s always fine-tuning her pitching. And of course she’s still hitting, because with that, it’s always just making sure that it’s where it needs to be.”
Before beginning her collegiate career, Tweed still has plenty she’d like to help the Warlassies accomplish next season.
“Our goal is to finally win the (Western Highlands Conference) and beat Madison this year,” she said. “And honestly, we want to make it to state.”