E.A. Sports Today

Dyar goes D-I

White Plains senior signs papers Thursday to play golf at Jacksonville State; 3 seniors sign from Piedmont

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Layne Dyar had a plan.

The White Plains senior officially became a Division I college golfer Thursday morning when she signed paperwork to play at Jacksonville State next fall, but the wheels have been in motion for a while.

When Dyar approached Lady Wildcats golf coach Marcus Harrell two years ago with her desire to play college golf her best scores were in the mid-90s. They weren’t the kinds of numbers that had college recruiters meeting her on the first tee.

But Harrell didn’t dismiss her dream. Instead, he worked with her, laying out a demanding program meant to test the player’s dedication and ready her game for the next level if she followed through.

The reward was realized Thursday when she sat between Harrell and her dad, Calhoun County schools superintendent Joe Dyar, and signed her letter of intent in the White Plains gym in front of a gathering of teammates, family and friends.

“When I told him I wanted to play college golf he said you’re just going to have to work really hard and we worked together every day since,” Dyar said. “I’d been watching those girls on the LPGA for the longest time and I had been watching (former Alexandria player) Madison (Williams) and I knew she was a great player and I wanted to be like her. (Harrell) said if I put in the work he would help me.

“You don’t really know what it takes until you actually do it, so it was completely different from anything I would have ever imagined, but I am so glad I decided to put in the work.”

The plan was one Harrell had given to several players he’s helped pursue their college goal, players like Williams and two-time County champion Jordan Gregoria. It went beyond what was necessary to play competitively for their high school teams. It meant working at your game when your friends had finished their rounds and were headed home or were off chasing other pursuits.

Dyar was at the course every free moment tightening her game. It paid off this year with her winning the individual title in the Calhoun County Championship in a playoff. When she lost teammate Keaten Beam in an automobile accident right after the county championship, she pushed herself even more. She went on to win the sub-state medal with a brilliant 68 and helped the Lady Wildcats win their school’s first state championship in any sport.

“I’m so glad that I made that choice to go to the golf course instead of all that other stuff,” Dyar said.

She chose JSU over Troy, UAB, Birmingham Southern and Montevallo.

Harrell said the skills Dyar developed on the road to her scholarship would serve her – and the Gamecocks – well in the coming years. It wouldn’t surprise him if she made a strong bid to crack the lineup as a freshman.

“If you saw her play a couple years ago you’d have thought there was no chance in the world she would ever play any kind of college golf much less Division I college golf,” Harrell said. “But in the two years leading up to this there has never been one time I had to tell her she was off track, not one time I had to tell her you’ve got to push a little bit more; she went beyond the things she had to do.

“I think that shows a lot about her character as a person, about her willingness to achieve whatever she wants to achieve, not only in golf, but life itself. Winners win and losers lose; Layne Dyar is a winner, that’s what it boils down to. If you want to win, find a way to get Layne Dyar in your lineup. She finds a way to get the job done.”

Torrie Roberts (center) and her family are all smiles after the Piedmont shortstop signed to play softball at Jacksonville State on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Fagan)

Torrie Roberts (center) and her family are all smiles after the Piedmont shortstop signed to play softball at Jacksonville State on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Fagan)

3 sign from Piedmont

PIEDMONT — For the past two years, Piedmont shortstop Torre Roberts has utilized her speed on the softball diamond quite often. In 2014, she set a school record with 60 stolen bases in 65 attempts. This past spring she swiped 41 out of 42.

On Thursday, she stole the hearts of the Jacksonville State softball coaching staff.

Roberts was one of three Piedmont seniors signing to play at the college of their choice. Payton Young also signed with JSU — to play baseball — and Wil Mitchell signed with Montevallo to run track.

In addition to her base-stealing ability, Roberts also provides JSU with some power and versatility. In 2014, she batted a team-high .453 and led the team in hits, runs, triples and slugging. Last spring she hit .346 with 11 walks, eight doubles, three triples, a home run, 53 runs and 21 RBI.

“I’ve been playing softball since I was 3 years old, and it was just always a dream of mine to play in college; it just came true,” Roberts said. “Not everyone has this opportunity, and I really need to be thankful for it.”

Young is thankful for his chance to play on the next level. The JSU baseball team is getting a powerful bat and an outfielder with deceptive speed for his size.

He hit .394 with six home runs, five doubles, 38 walks, 37 runs and 26 RBI as a sophomore in 2014. He missed most of his junior season for administrative reasons, but is expected to be back with the Bulldogs this season with hopes of capping his high school career on a strong note.

“I just know I’m ready to get into this season and do what it takes to win a championship,” he said. “It’s been nerve wracking up to this point, and I’m glad it’s finally here. The first time I met (JSU coach Jim Case) him was three months ago when he came to my house. He’s just an outstanding guy, and he’s a good coach. I’m ready to go in and work hard.”

Mitchell, the son of Piedmont track coach Mark Mitchell, fell in love with the pole vault in the fifth grade and his hard work and determination landed him a spot at Montevallo.

He has increased his vault by 18 inches each year, capped with his best jump of 12-feet, 3-inches last spring.

Shannon Fagan, sports editor of Northwest Georgia News/Cherokee County Herald, contributed to this report.

On the cover: Layne Dyar signs her letter of intent to play golf at Jacksonville State Thursday while White Plains coach Marcus Harrell (left) and her dad, Calhoun County schools superintendent Joe Dyar, watch intently.

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