A memorable final year for Heritage’s Carmen Gayler added another big chapter on Wednesday when the generals slugger signed a letter of intent to play college softball.
The 2020 Region 6-AAAA Player of the Year, GACA All-State First Teammate, Georgia Dugout Club Class AAAA Co-Player of the Year and Catoosa County Co-Player will be heading for a few hours to west to play for the Tennessee Skyhawks. -Martin, member of the NCAA Division I Ohio Valley Conference.
“This means that (now) I can continue to work hard on my gameGayler said after a high school signing ceremony. “I can relax now, knowing that I have a place to go.”
Gayler, who started her playing days as a member of the Bratz when she was four, said she first discovered college through her travel softball coach Steve Rogers from Force Elite.
“He put me in touch with (UTM) Coach (Brian) Dunn and (Dunn) was just as welcoming as everyone. He was just wonderful, ”recalls Gayler. “And then coach (Tanner) Moore got to know (UTM assistant) coach (Chelsea) Farmer and she was wonderful too. Their team looks like family and that’s something I want to be a part of.
Arguably the Generals’ leading puncher over the past three seasons, Gayler averaged 0.458 in his career last season with 41 runs scored and 58 RBIs, both also career highs. She tied her career record with seven round trips, while her RBIs total was Georgia’s highest in any class.
The three-time All-Region player, two-time Regional Player of the Year and two-time All-State first baseman has hit nearly .450 over the past three seasons and finished his career with 15 home runs and 136 points career products, while helping the program win four consecutive regional championships and the last three state AAAA class championships.
She will leave while holding seven heritage records, including career walks, slugging percentage and RBI, and one-season scores for walks, doubles, slugging percentage and RBI.
“I feel like I can do (at UTM) exactly what I did here, which is to hit the ball, be their energy source and lead in races,” she said. added.
Moore said Gayler was ready to play to the next level and recalled a batting in the state playoffs last fall against Bainbridge flamethrower Lexie Delbrey, a future University of Florida pitcher with a fastball between 68 and 70 miles per hour, as proof of Gayler’s confidence.
“Carmen spun around and put it in the sideline of right center field for a brace,” said the former Heritage head coach. “At this speed it’s hard to make an adjustment game, but she was able to do it. I think she knows her game play to the next level. Really, from her point of view, it’s about trust and now that she’s got it, I think she’s going to do awesome at (Tennessee) Martin.
He also called Tennessee-Martin “incredible fit” for their former player.
“A lot of athletes, especially teenagers, might not really know what they want to do, but Carmen knows she wants to study agriculture and she knows she wants to play softball,” a- he explained. “I think the colleges recruit the athlete a lot, but in this case the athlete recruited the college and that was really cool to see.”
Megan Crawford, who coached Gayler for four years as an assistant with the generals before taking over the post-season lead, said the Skyhawks have one of the best people she’s ever met.
“Carmen works hard and this was mentioned several times today (during the ceremony) by people who know her in different ways in the community and at school,” she …
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