KINGWOOD — There isn’t a lot that comes before softball for Preston senior Haley Livengood, but one of the few things that does is her religion.
Livengood is a proud practitioner of Christianity and a talent on the softball field. She had always dreamed of attending a college that fits her religious needs, but also wanted to continue her playing career. On Wednesday, she was able to achieve both goals, as she signed to play softball Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Ohio).
“I’m really involved in my youth group in church, and we would take trips to Mount Vernon. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I felt warm and welcomed, and everyone up there is a strong Christian. I always knew I wanted to go to a Christian university,” she said.
Mount Vernon Nazarene describes itself as a liberal arts college with an evangelical Christian foundation and mission. The school is home to over 2,200 undergraduate students, with their athletic programs competing in the Crossroads League in the NAIA.
Due to her church’s affiliation with the school, the choice was seemingly a no-brainer, but her hopes of continuing her softball career kept her from making a final decision. When Mount Vernon laid down an offer, she knew it was time to make the choice she had long wanted to make.
“When I was viewing other colleges, I really had Mount Vernon in the back of my mind, but I wanted to play softball. To play softball, I was willing to go anywhere,” she said.
“When I went up there for a visit and they watched my film and they offered me, I knew I could have the best of both worlds — to go to school there and play softball there.”
Mount Vernon will add an intelligent player to the dugout, according to Preston coach Moe Pritt, who praised Livengood’s intellect and adaptability on the diamond.
“She’s smart. Her softball acumen is above most people her age, definitely. You can put her in any position on the field and she can perform there, and perform well. She always gives 100 percent effort and her heart is always in it to play,” he said.
“It’ll benefit her at the next level because she’s ahead of a lot of people her age. Her father and her coaches when she played travel ball, they taught her that. I attribute most of that to what she’s learned from them.”
An additional bonus for Livengood was how well she gelled with the coaching staff — she said their approach to the game fits her personality and style of play well, and she found herself impressed with their disposition both on and off the field.
“I like their coaching style, and I just like what they do and what they stand for. I feel like they fit me best. They always put God first, and you can tell that through the players and the coaches. They always do what’s right, and you can tell from their character how God is working through them. I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
Pritt expects Livengood to continue to improve and to make a strong impact for the Mount Vernon program.
“I congratulate her on her accomplishment. We’re proud of the fact that she was able to do this. She’ll learn and continue to get better as she goes off to college, as long as she puts in the time and effort to do that,” he said.