By NEMCC Media Relations
BOONEVILLE – Northeast Mississippi Community College head softball coach Jody Long knows how valuable pitchers are to the junior college ranks.
That’s why the veteran Lady Tiger mentor signed one of the Magnolia State’s top pitchers on Tuesday, May 22.
Haley Gravat, a left-handed pitcher with over 100 wins at Houston High School, agreed to become Long’s latest Lady Tiger in a ceremony held at the Chickasaw County school.
Gravat’s final week as a Lady Topper has been a busy one. On Saturday, May 19, the Houston senior helped the Lady Toppers defeat defending Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A champion Newton County 5-3 to claim the 2012 Class 4A state championship in the best-of-three series.
Houston had set up the decisive game with a 10-7 win against the Lady Cougars.
Tuesday, May 22 Gravat signed to continue her softball career on the collegiate level and Thursday, May 24 will mark the Houston senior’s graduation from the Division 4-4A school.
With the Class 4A state championship, Gravat capped a four-year career that saw the Houston Hilltopper strike out over 170 batters in her final year and almost 450 in her final four years at Houston.
Gravat’s career record stands at 108-23 and in the last three years at Houston, she went 34-2, 19-2 and 27-6 with 350 strikeouts against just 86 walks and threw nearly 400 innings for Keith Jernigan’s club.
During her final three years, Gravat’s team went 34-2, 23-4 and 27-6 with Gravat accounting for 95-percent of Houston’s wins over her sophomore, junior and senior years.
In her final season with the Lady Toppers, Gravat registered 172 strikeouts to just 35 walks and struck out more than 10 batters on three different occasions.
In a 13-0 victory against Calhoun City on April 12, Gravat set a season-high with 11 strikeouts and in wins against Baldwyn on March 9 (5-4) and Kosciusko on March 29 (10-0), Gravat also reached double digits in strikeouts as well.
Gravat clocked 211 innings for the Lady Toppers during the 2011-12 season en route to the Class 4A state championship. In those 211 innings, Gravat was part of 12 shutouts including six in the span of seven games that helped propel Houston into the state championship series in Ridgeland.
Under Gravat’s final watch, Houston only lost one regular season game – to Class 5A New Hope early in the season.
Gravat also helped Houston to a Top Four ranking by MaxPreps for the state of Mississippi and a forty-third (43) ranking nationally by the CBSSports.com site.
However, Gravat was a dual threat for the Lady Toppers piecing together a .363 batting average with 41 hits in 113 at bats with two doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs – which came against Water Valley on March 24 in an 8-0 win and in a 18-0 no hitter against Noxubee County where she had recorded six RBIs with a single and an inside-the-park home run.
Gravat had a .410 on base percentage with a .442 slugging percentage and struck out just five times in 129 plate appearances and just once since Spring Break while drawing nine walks.
During her junior year, Gravat pieced together a 19-2 mark on the mound while leading the Lady Toppers to a 23-4 overall record before falling to North Pontotoc in the second round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs.
With her 19-2 mark, Gravat struck out 111 against just 29 walks while throwing 126 innings for the Lady Toppers.
In her sophomore year, Gravat made a splash at the plate hitting .444 with 44 base knocks in 99 at bats while going 27-6 on the mound with 67 strikeouts.