DUNCAN, S.C. (WSPA) – Byrnes pitcher Haylee Whitesides ended her senior season with a state title, and now the soon-to-be Clemson Tiger gets ready to compete for a national championship with her favorite team.
On June 3, Whitesides’ career at Byrnes came full circle. She won state as an 8th grader in 2017, and captured the title again in her final season.
“It’s just really special to come out here and show that we’ve worked together to come out here and win this thing,” said Whitesides after the 4-0 championship-clinching win over Ashely Ridge.
It was a picture perfect ending to a near perfect postseason, as Whitesides recorded 75 strikeouts in 7 games, ending with a complete-game shutout in the final to end her high school career. She finished the playoff run with a 1.42 earned run average.
“It feels great to just finally win one and for me to be such a big part of it,” Whitesides said.
Whitesides now turns her attention to Clemson Softball. She’s always set her sights on becoming a Tiger, but the opportunity only recently became available.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Clemson and them finally getting a softball program was the next step in going there…I think it’ll be really cool to be a part of one of the first few teams that’s been there. And coach Rittman will take my athletic career to the next level.”
“She’s not going to only just grow tremendously as a player, but they’re going to really care about her as a person,” said Byrnes Head Coach Brandi Aiken. “It’s going to be life-changing for Haylee to be a part of that.”
As a pitcher herself, Haylee will be joining the reigning Freshman and ACC Player of the Year in Valerie Cagle. Coach Aiken said Whitesides’ poise in the circle matches well with her new teammate.
“Her response to a strikeout and a home run are almost identical,” said Aiken. “You don’t really know if you’re just looking at her which one has happened.”
“I think it’ll be really cool for me to have a few years with her, because she has a lot that I think I could learn from her,” Whitesides said of the standout Clemson ace.
As she looks ahead to her collegiate career, Whitesides says she’ll never forget the memories made on the high school diamond.
“The teammates make playing at Byrnes real easy, because they’re all super nice and it’s basically just a second family for all of us…It’s going to be really special to end with these girls that I started with.”
Whitesides will be majoring in health and sciences at Clemson as she hopes to become a dental hygienist someday to go along with the title of national champion.