After the season came to an end at sectionals in Ozark this past fall, she was convinced and coming to terms with the fact that her career had reached a conclusion. However, one phone call a couple of months later changed her future.

Camdenton senior Haley Wheat thought her softball days were over.

After the season came to an end at sectionals in Ozark this past fall, she was convinced and coming to terms with the fact that her career had reached a conclusion. However, one phone call a couple of months later changed her future.

“It was pretty sad when I was not going anywhere knowing that softball was over after senior year,” Wheat recalled. “But then I got a call from the head coach at Missouri Valley and he said he wanted me to come play with him so I was pretty excited about going there and getting to continue playing softball since I had been playing for so long.”

It is a game Wheat has loved playing since the age of 8 with other girls in the Lake area and now she will get to enjoy that privilege a little longer after receiving that call from Head Coach Jason Marcum. Wheat celebrated the opportunity at a signing ceremony at Camdenton High School on Tuesday with friends, family and coaches in attendance.

Wheat became the fourth Laker senior to head to the collegiate ranks and Camdenton coach Tyler Dinsdale noted that the other two seniors in the class have the capability to play collegiately as well should they choose that path.

“It just shows the strong program we’ve got and the good basis and foundation we’ve got that will hopefully lead onto the underclassmen coming up,” the coach stated.

But like anything worth doing, it requires some hard work and Dinsdale quickly pointed out that Wheat was no exception.

“She has probably grown the most of any player that we’ve had. We converted her from a shortstop to a first baseman and that has just shown in her progression throughout the year,” the coach noted. “She has gone from being a role player to an All-Conference and All-District player her senior year. She has really put in the work and this is all on her putting in the effort.”

And if Wheat maintains that effort, the coach is certain that more good things will follow at the NAIA school in Marshall, Mo.

“With her progression and the way she keeps going, she is just going to keep getting better. If she keeps working the way she’s worked in high school at the collegiate level, she is going to do really well,” Dinsdale said.

At the same time, Wheat said it would not have been possible without some coaching and she was grateful for all of Dinsdale’s efforts.

“Dinsdale helped me out a lot and pushed me a lot to get me where I am right now so having a good coach really gets you there,” the senior said.

Wheat will be spending plenty of time on a softball field, but there were a couple of other factors that went into her choice of Missouri Valley as well.

“I went and visited their campus and I really like it because it is not such a big school and I like the small campus,” she remarked. “Their nursing program is really good and I wanted to go to a good nursing program.”

It will be a new chapter for Wheat, but she will not forget her roots, either. Whether it was being part of a team that won two straight Ozark Conference titles or three straight district championships, there was plenty to enjoy about her time as a Laker and taking the field with teammates that were her friends as well.

“It was awesome to be a part of a winning program. When we came in as freshmen we knew we were going to do good things for the Camdenton softball team and coming out like our senior year did, it was great to see all the accomplishments we had,” Wheat said.

It was all a result of hard work and Dinsdale said that may be the best thing to take away from the senior’s example as her efforts led to that one phone call.

“She can attest that I probably pushed her harder than any player that we’ve had. I would hit ground balls to anyone else and then when it came her time I would hit them as hard as I could and hit 10 in a row,” Dinsdale remarked.

“She never once complained. She might have whined a little bit, but she did not complain,” the coach jokingly continued. “Working hard is her ‘M.O.’ (method of operation) and she has instilled that in a lot of people.”

Now, Wheat will prepare to take the field for the Vikings next season and she did not suggest otherwise when asked what her advice would be to returning and future Lakers.

“Always work hard,” she said. “That is the number one thing.”