GHS softball players sign with Santa Fe, Mercer

The Gainesville softball program continues to send players to the next level.

Last year, three Hurricanes signed to play college ball, including a pair this past summer.

On Tuesday night at GHS, seniors Jayla Clark and Parris Wiggs inked their letters of intent.

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“This makes it all worthwhile,” said Gainesville coach Chris Chronister, who has had “close to 10” of his players sign during his six seasons as head coach. “I put in a lot of time as a coach, but they put in more time as players working on their craft, making themselves better as players and students, so to see them achieve a goal like this is outstanding.”

Clark, who has played center field since her sophomore season, signed with Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

“Jayla is the consummate ball player,” Chronister said. “This is the kind of kid that every coach wants on their team. She’s a hard worker, never says she can’t do anything, she just wants to know how to get better. I can’t say enough about her attitude and work ethic.”

GHS softball player Jayla Clark signed with Santa Fe College

The rising senior batted .397 as a junior with 31 hits and 17 runs batted in. She led the team in walks with 18 and she also finished second on the team with 12 stolen bases.

“I spent so many years, since I was like 10, trying to get to this point so finally getting here is surreal, honestly,” said Clark, who noted the good program SFC had as well as the chance to learn graphic design.

Clark said her power is something she wants to work on her senior season.

“I want to expand my game by adding more power over the fence or get it into the gap,” she said. “It’s (senior year) going to be great. I want to make sure I end on a good note.”

Meanwhile, Wiggs signed with D-I Mercer University of the Southern Conference.

“She’s an extremely talented athlete,” Chronister said. “She can do anything that she puts her mind to. She’s got good speed, she’s got power, she’s got a good arm. She’s got all the tools to play softball and that’s why she’s going to play Division-I softball. She’s a naturally-gifted athlete.”

As a junior, Wiggs batted .533 with a team-leading 49 hits and 35 RBI. She also tied for second on the team in doubles (9) and home runs (4).

“This is a dream come true,” said Wiggs, who began playing when she was 12 years old after she finished gymnastics. “I need to finish my senior year off strong, but I feel like I’ve done really well since I’ve been here.”

Wiggs, who will play either third base, where she played early in her career, or the outfield, is optimistic about this season.

GHS softball player Parris Wiggs signed with Mercer University

“We’re going to get it again (district title) and hopefully we’re going to get a state championship this year,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to the season.”

Last year, the pair led GHS (18-7) to a district championship and state playoff appearance.

“They’re going to be the core of this team,” Chronister said. “We’re going to need offense and hopefully they’re going to supply it this year. We have a good group returning, but the leadership that they’ll bring to the team is going to be key to our success this year.”

In 2021, the ‘Canes defeated Middleburg, 2-1, to win the 5A-District 3 title.

“Our softball program has been traditionally strong with Coach Chronister and the coaches we’ve had at the helm,” said Gainesville athletics director Cindy Boulware. “But these are both very good young ladies, very good students, and very good athletes, so I know that they will represent GHS and their families well at the next level.”

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