Walker Valley senior Sidney Hooper has committed to play softball at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.
Hooper, an all-state selection, helped Walker Valley (25-11) to a District 5-AAA runner-up finish to eventual state champion Soddy-Daisy and a berth in the Region 3 tournament last spring. She batted .423 with 15 of her 31 career doubles.
In three years she's totaled seven home runs, eight triples, 77 RBIs and scored 87 runs. As a pitcher she has a 46-24 record and 1.42 ERA in 439 innings pitched with 390 strikeouts.
"I think it's a great decision," Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. "Austin Peay is lucky to have her. She's a hard worker and a team player. I think she'll excel there. She's always wanting to improve. For a person that's that talented to want to improve really says something about them.
"She's a great example for our younger girls to follow. She brings that to the team, and I know she will at Austin Peay as well."
Hooper is coming off her fifth summer season playing for the Chattanooga Force, who this year played a 35-game 18-under Gold schedule. She led the team in hitting at .465, including a home run, a triple and six doubles with 29 RBIs and 25 runs scored. Her pitching record was 7-4 with a 2.60 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched.
The Force is coached by Ken Chernak, who like Limburg said he saw NCAA Division I potential in Hooper from the time she was at Ocoee Middle School. Chernak is assisted by Sidney's father, Kinny, a former standout athlete at Bradley Central who went on to play linebacker at Ole Miss.
"She's very competitive, just like him," Chernak said. "She would go all out if she needed to fix any issues she would have. She's extremely coachable. Pitching, she did a great job. Playing third base, she did a great job. She went back and forth in the 3 and 4 spots and was a big run producer for us. She's the type of kid you'd want at the plate if you had runners on second and third and down by a run."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.