By Joseph Garcia
Liberty Hill senior Presley Walker has earned the right to be called a leader and it shows.
Walker, 18, is known for her upbeat attitude and is seemingly a coach’s dream. You will not get an argument otherwise from Lady Panthers’ Coach Charice Hankins.
“Presley (Walker) is a great kid,” Hankins said. “Presley (Walker) has a huge desire to contribute game in and game out, and she does. She leads by example, working hard, listening and with her positive attitude. She loves this game. She is one of the most coachable kids we have and she is a fighter.”
She has fought her way to become the starting first baseman with some stiff competition surrounding her. But she earned that spot and in addition to her defensive prowess, she bats cleanup (fourth spot) for the Lady Panthers and has produced all season.
“(Walker) works hard; she knows the game, is a focused player and has worked hard to gain her starting position at first base and as our number four batter in the lineup,” acknowledged Hankins. “She makes great contact with the ball; she sees the ball well.”
Walker, who was born in Round Rock, has lived in Liberty Hill since she was in kindergarten. Coincidentally, that is when she first picked up a ball and bat to play T-ball. One year later, she began playing softball and her love for the game sprouted.
Now Pres’, as she is called, love for the game is evident as it has flourished into what you see today — a passionate and skilled player.
“Everything about (softball) is awesome,” Walker said. “My mom and dad are really involved, so that helps. Getting a big hit in a game is about the best feeling in the world. It’s a huge rush.”
For those who follow the Lady Panthers, it is known that Walker’s parents are not the only family members involved. Her younger sister Payton is right there with her as the starting catcher for Liberty Hill.
When on the field defensively, the two are 60 feet away from each other, but the Walker sisters’ closeness off the field makes them a dangerous tandem opposing base runners have to watch out for.
“Playing with my sister is an honor,” Walker said. “She is a fantastic player and it’s great having us two Walker sisters out there representing our team. Since she is a catcher and I’m at first, we can just look at each other and I know when she is going to throw the ball to me on a throw down. It’s really motivating for both of us also, because if I get a hit and get to second I’ll tell her ‘hey switch with me Payton.’ I love her and I’m glad we have this opportunity to play together. We’re going to make the most of it and go as far as we can this year.”
Upon graduation, Walker plans to attend Texas State University to become a Registered Nurse and eventually become an anesthesiologist. And when she is not involved with softball or school, Walker’s other hobbies include country dancing with her friends, fishing and hanging out near bodies of water such as lakes or the ocean.
But when she steps on the softball field, she means business. She considers herself a leader and tries to set an example for the younger players on how to never get down and to always give 100 percent.
“I like to lead by example,” Walker explained. “I may not be the loudest person on the field, but I feel like I have a great attitude all the time and I try to keep the team up in whatever way I can. I lead by having a good attitude. I feel like I set a good example for the younger players because I work hard and give my coaches my all every play.”
An example of Walker’s local leadership is by saying the word “next” when there is an error in the field.
“If I (or someone else) make a mistake, I say ‘next’ and move on to what I can control, which is the next play,” she said.
Currently, Walker and the Lady Panthers sit at 5-0 in District 8-3A, own a 22-2 overall record and are ranked No. 2 in the state among 3A schools.
It is no coincidence that the state tournament team of 2012, along with this year’s 2013 team was and is a cohesive unit and used to winning. A good portion of the girls from each squad have played together for quite a long time on the same PONY League team. In fact, in 2007 and in 2011, those teams won the PONY National Championship.
While that was a wonderful experience for Walker and a precursor of things to come, nothing compares to the feeling of playing in the state tournament.
“Making it to state was the best feeling in the world,” Walker said. “It was indescribable. Knowing that you are one of the top four teams in the state left out of every 3A school in Texas was absolutely amazing. No one can ever take away that we were there. We worked so hard and it shows that hard work truly pays off.”
Not only was the state tournament experience amazing for Walker, but she also considered it an honor to represent Liberty Hill.
“I remember how awesome it felt having the whole town behind us,” she said. “We had the best fans we could ever ask for.”
Getting a taste of glory makes Walker crave that feeling again. She and the rest of the Lady Panthers have their sights set on a return trip to Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin.
With five district games remaining, the playoffs are ever so near. Walker and the Lady Panthers have business to take care of in 8-3A, but she cannot wait to begin another journey to what she hopes will be a long postseason run.
“(Being at the state tournament) is the biggest adrenaline rush,” Walker said. “That’s all I can think of during this season. We are working extremely hard this year and I feel like we can make it back to the state tournament and even go one step further: the state championship.”