Livi Presley to play softball at Brevard
Throughout her softball career for the Owen Warlassies, Livi Presley was a ball of energy who kicked up dust both at the plate and the shortstop position.
So perhaps it is fitting that the soon-to-be graduate's next chapter in the sport will be written as a member of the Tornados of Brevard College.
Surrounded by friends and family in the school's media center on June 6, Presley became the latest Owen High School athlete to sign with a collegiate athletic program.
"I'm really excited to have the chance to play at Brevard," she said. "It all happened kind of fast."
A whirlwind experience for Presley seems suitable for an athlete that helped raise the level of competitiveness on the volleyball and basketball courts as well as the softball diamond at Owen, according to Warlassies' head coach Jenny Johnson.
"Livi has a lot of energy," Johnson said. "She also has a lot of passion and enthusiasm, so she she definitely has the type of personality that helps motivate her teammates."
It also helped her earn a spot on the Western Highlands Conference all-conference team as a senior. The feat was especially noteworthy considering Presley missed her entire junior season with what her doctor called a "severe" knee injury.
"She worked very hard to come back from her knee injury," Johnson said. "And she's such a strong player."
Presley appeared in all 21 games this year for the 15-6 Warlassies, batting .318, driving in 11 runs and stealing 13 bases on 13 attempts. But Johnson believes Presley will improve at the collegiate level.
"Just watching her throw the ball to first from short is one of those things you enjoy watching because it's so smooth," Johnson said. "She didn't hit as well this year as she would have liked, but she definitely has the potential in her, and I'm excited to see her develop more at Brevard."
According to Tornados coach Bob Lowe, Presley's development will likely have a significant impact on the team.
"Our star shortstop was a senior, and (Presley) has a lot of the same qualities that she had," Lowe said. "I see Olivia working into that role as well."
The Tornados finished the 2016 season - Coach Lowe's first - with a 19-35 record. The team's senior shortstop, Kinsey Parrish, was named to the South Atlantic Conference's all-conference second team. Presley's strategy for trying to fill the void left by the departure of Parrish is precisely what led her to being a vocal leader at Owen.
"I love playing softball," Presley said. "My goal is to become a better player and eventually be the best that I can be. Missing my junior season with a knee injury made me really miss the game. At this point, I'm really happy to have the chance to keep playing and learning."
That desire to improve is what Lowe calls the "it factor."
"She has a can-do attitude," he said. "You can just tell that she wants to get better with every pitch. Obviously that's the kind of attitude that we look for in a player."
Presley credits her father Curt Presley with instilling a competitive drive in her. Like his daughter, Curt was a multi-sport athlete at Owen. He went on to play baseball and football at Mars Hill College.
The Warlassies advanced to the third round of the state playoffs in the 2016 season. Presley is the second senior from the team to sign with a college (teammate Alivia Brigman committed to play softball for Piedmont College). Johnson believes Presley and Brigman's legacies will inspire returning players.
"I think it's awesome that two of our four seniors have signed to play in college," Johnson said. "Hopefully it can help some of our younger players see that if they work hard they can go on to play at the next level as well."
Other Owen athletes have signed to play in college
Alivia Brigman - Piedmont College (Demorest, Ga.)
Cross country/Track & field
Garret Welsh - Milligan College (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Ty Lenk - College of New Rochelle (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
Christine Osborne - Montreat College (Montreat)