DUNCAN, S.C. (WSPA) – Byrnes standout Haylee Whitesides was named the Gatorade South Carolina Softball Player of the Year, the organization announced Friday.
Whitesides is the second softball player from Byrnes to receive the honor. She is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award, which will be announced later in June.
Below is a release from Gatorade detailing the reasons Whitesides, a Clemson commit, was selected for the prestigious honor:
The 5-foot-5 senior right-handed pitcher and infielder led the Rebels to a 32-1 record and the Class AAAAA state championship this past season. Whitesides compiled a 20-1 mark with a 0.64 earned run average in the circle, allowing just 28 walks with 149 strikeouts in 101 innings pitched. At the plate, 2019 First Team All-State selection posted a .429 batting average with four home runs, 28 runs batted in and a 1.220 OPS. A member of the National Honor Society, Whitesides has volunteered locally as part of a Christmas toy collection drive in her community, and she has donated her time as a youth softball coach.
Whitesides has maintained a 3.53 GPA in the classroom. She signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at Clemson University this fall. The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.
The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport. Whitesides joins recent Gatorade South Carolina Softball Players of the Year Kylee Gleason (2019-20, May River High School), Bailey Betenbaugh (2018-19 & 2016-17, Union County High School), and Karly Heath (2017-18, North Augusta High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Whitesides has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Whitesides is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations. Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.