“Go big or go home.”
Lauren Heath knows it well, and in fact those are her words to describe the first time she experienced the extreme side of it. She, a Perry High School student-athlete but in this case part of a travel ball team playing in the World Series, came in 2014. As events would have it, it was the last inning, the team was down by one run and there were two outs. Two runners were on base and she was up to bat.
“With all the adrenaline going through my body,” she described, “I felt like I was going to throw up because I was so nervous. But at the same time I was filled with excitement knowing that I could be the reason my team won.”
And in fact, she was. With two strikes, Heath said the pitcher gave her the pitch she wanted. She hit a line drive over the second baseman’s head.
The team won and, “watching my teammate score the winning run was one of the best moments in my life.
“I was greeted with hugs and ‘high fives’ from my teammates, coaches and other parents.”
The team ended up fifth out of 80 teams in their age group that year and Heath ascribed it as one of her favorite memories … “one I’ll never forget,” she said.
More “go big or go home” moments have followed. In particular was that of seeing the Lady Panthers make it through two rounds of best two-out-of-three playoffs series’ in the GHSA Class AAAA state softball tournament and making it to the Columbus Softball Complex where they were able to play in “the Show” so to speak – a milestone most teams set their sights on each year (in addition to a state championship of course). Perry managed two more contests from there before “go big or go home” caught up with them.
Still, more go big or go home moments are now in sight. That’s because the .391 hitter – this past season; 36 hits, 35 runs driven in and 23 scored – recently signed a scholarship to continue her playing career and education with Middle Georgia State University. (She also ended with an .865 fielding percentage.)
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the campus and it felt so much like home to me,” she, playing softball since she was 4, said of the decision.
Heath said she plans on majoring in nursing. She’ll also be joining teammate Charisma Walker, who also recently signed with the Lady Knights. Together they’ll be working on improving the team’s 20-29 year (their “go big or go home” moment – a loss made it the latter – coming in the third game of the SSAC tournament in early May).
“They made me feel like I had an opportunity to come in as a freshman and start playing right away,” she said.