For the past four years, Vanessa Hart continued to work on her game and this past season, the Ridgeland senior was rewarded with her best individual season as a Lady Panther.

Hart earned Catoosa-Walker Dream Team first team honors and second team All-Region honors in 6-AAAA in her final season with Ridgeland and the rewards continued earlier this month as Hart was able to sign on to play college softball play at Bryan College.

“It’s honestly a really big accomplishment,” she said. “It’s a honor to be able to play for Bryan College. I’m just so proud of myself for being able to continue playing the sport I love (at) the next level.”

Hart said she was impressed with Bryan during a camp and a campus visit.

“I loved the environment and being able to connect with everyone,” she added. “The team was just so welcoming and I can’t wait to be able to be a part of it.”

“I feel (that) I’ll bring a positive attitude and a very enthusiastic personality to my team and my school.”

Hart, a four-year varsity team member, batted .346 overall on the year, including .368 in region play. She delivered three doubles, 10 runs scored and 14 RBI’s, including four multi-RBI games.

She saved one of her best performances for last as she had a single, a double and four RBI’s in a region playoff victory over Southeast Whitfield.

“Over the years, she just kept working and working and working until her senior year,” said Ridgeland head coach Richie Wood, explaining that Hart’s senior season was the best she ever had. “She did everything I asked. She played outfield and played infield and did a great job.”

Hart said she would be playing outfield with the Lions and Wood said Hart has the talent and potential to be a good one.

“She can play a mean outfield she’s got a good arm,” he added. “She can drop-set and go get the ball if she needs to and she can throw your butt out (on the bases) if she needs to.”

Wood also called Hart a “fantastic” person.

“Her dad is military, so she comes in with a lot of discipline and she’s able to take constructive criticism and turn it into a great work ethic,” he added.

Hart said she plans to study biology and hopes to graduate with a bachelors degree and later go to medical school as she has designs on a career as a nurse.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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