SOFTBALL: Haley Sandridge officially heading for Florida

On hand to watch Ridgeland softball standout Haley Sandridge sign on to play at Chipola (Fla.) College were family members Ayden Lewis, Brayden Lewis, Kristie Lewis, Kobe Lewis, Jaelyn Lewis, Steve Lewis and Tashia Shelton. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

One of the best all-around softball players and athletes to come through Ridgeland High School in a number of years will be taking her considerable talents to the Sunshine State next season.

Senior Haley Sandridge, a two-time All-State performer for the Lady Panthers, made her college choice official by signing with Chipola (Fla.) College in a ceremony at the school on Tuesday.

"This is exciting," Sandridge said with her ever-present smile. "I'm a little nervous about going off so far away (to college), but I'm excited for the journey. Hopefully I'll have fun."

Chipola, located in Marianna, Florida won the NJCAA national championship in 2007 and 2015 and Florida state titles in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Sandridge verbally committed to the Lady Indians back in December.

“I went to go visit down there and I liked the campus and the people," she said. "It seemed like the coaches really bonded with you. They want to try to get you in showcases so other (bigger) schools can look at you. It all just stuck with me.

"I've already met some of the other softball players. They told me you'll have to earn it there, but it will be worth it in the end and that the experiences were great. They get to go to a lot of places to play."

As a junior, Sandridge hit .510 with 19 extra base hits and 19 RBIs. This past season, she hit .444 with 13 doubles, seven triples, three homers and 24 RBIs with 42 runs scored.

She helped Ridgeland reach the Elite Eight in Columbus as a junior and the Lady Panthers were the Region 6-AAAA regular season champions in her senior season.

She is expected to play shortstop at Chipola.

"I hope I can bring what they need for a shortstop," she explained. "I'm going to give them all I have, just like I did here at Ridgeland. I'll bring ability, effort and leadership."

"Haley is a complete player," Ridgeland head coach Richie Wood said. "She can hit, she can throw, she can run, she can just do it all. They are getting a real gem and just a tremendous player. Haley was been with me and started for me basically every game for the last four years.

"Their coach came up from Birmingham back in November to look at her and he was just elated with what he saw. She's just phenomenal and Chipola is lucky to get her."

Sandridge said she wants to go into the medical field.