Sunday, April 14, 2024

Webster shines at next level

by Brandon Hansen / For The Leader
| June 8, 2023 12:00 AM

Ronan's Haylie Webster has been making waves at Itasca Community College, part of the Minnesota North Colleges.

Webster's journey to college softball began with an online recruiting program, where she put her information out for colleges to see. Her passion for softball and forestry/wildfire studies led her to choose Itasca, where she could simultaneously pursue her athletic and academic goals.

During her interview with the softball coach, Webster connected via FaceTime and was immediately drawn to his emphasis on teamwork. The coach's vision of a close-knit squad resonated with her, and she was thrilled to be guaranteed playtime as a freshman utility player.

This year has proven to be a success for Webster. With a roster consisting mainly of freshmen and a few sophomores, the coach had the task of familiarizing himself with the players' skills.

Webster's versatility on the field has been a tremendous asset to the team. Throughout the season, she has played multiple positions, including catcher, second base, shortstop, third base, and left and right field. Her outstanding performance earned her a spot on the prestigious NCAC All-Division Team, where she was selected as the first utility player in the North division. Furthermore, Webster was also chosen for the All-NCAC Team, solidifying her reputation as a formidable player.

For Itasca, she hit .395 this year with five home runs and 28 RBI.

Despite the distance separating her family from the games, Webster's parents managed to support her by watching the live broadcasts over the internet.

"We got to watch over the internet by turning our phones sideways because of how it was broadcasted," said her mom, Fontella Webster. "We watched a lot of sideways softball."

Itasca Community College's softball team recently achieved remarkable success, taking second place in their divisional tournament and emerging victorious in the regional tournament. They competed in the NJCAA national championship in New York.

Reflecting on Webster's journey, her father expressed immense pride in her accomplishments. In high school, where she participated in three sports – volleyball, basketball and softball – Webster's confidence in her abilities was not always as strong. However, her dedication, hard work, and talent ultimately earned her a pivotal role in the Itasca Community College softball team.

"She was the one always asking to go to the field and asking can we go do this or can we go do that," he added. "If she struggled a little on hitting, she was back in the gym hitting. She committed herself to doing it."

Her journey began at age 9, and over the past decade, she has honed her skills through 50-60 games in the spring and summer and approximately 30 games in the fall.

Webster's passion for the outdoors and her desire to work in forestry align with her mother's profession as a wildland firefighter. Before starting college, Webster spent a year fighting wildfires, further demonstrating her commitment to her chosen field.

As the softball season progresses, Webster's remarkable achievements continue to make her family, friends and fans proud. Her exceptional athleticism and determination have made her a standout player at the next level.

"Softball has been her passion since she was little. She has always had a good head on her shoulders," Fontella said.