El Dorado’s Delaney Loyd fulfilled a dream on Thursday when she signed to play collegiate softball at National Park College in Hot Springs. The Nighthawks compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 2.
The Lady Wildcats’ centerfielder battled back from injuries to bat .400 last season with two home runs while playing error-free defense.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Loyd said. “I’m very excited for this next journey I am about to go on. It’s very nerve racking as well. But it does feel like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders at the same time.”
Loyd said she was also recruited by SouthArk and Oklahoma Wesleyan, among others.
“I chose National Park because the moment I stepped on campus I felt at home. It was such a welcoming environment, and I just knew that was where I wanted to be.”
Loyd enjoyed good health for the first time last season. She had a .440 on base average with two doubles, three triples, 13 RBI and 13 runs scored. Defensively, she had two assists from the outfield on double plays. She had 10 hits in El Dorado’s last five games.
“She missed most of her sophomore season with a knee injury,” said El Dorado coach Chris Ezell. “You could see as the season progressed that she got more confident in her knee stability and her performance got stronger as the season ended.”
Loyd said she hasn’t decided on a major but is considering Occupational Therapy. She plans to focus on her base classes at National Park.
As for her dream of playing college softball, she remembers the exact moment.
“I started thinking about playing college softball around 13-years-old. That’s when I wanted to take it more serious and work harder than everyone else,” she said. “Me and my dad went to an Arkansas softball game and as we were leaving, I told him that I wanted to play college softball one day. I wanted to be able to be on a college field continuing to play. I knew I had to work harder than most, so I just kept my head right and did just that.”
While Loyd looks forward to competing at the college level, she’s eager to play for the Lady Wildcats one final season.
“For my senior season, I just want to get better. I want to be a better version of myself than I was in the past seasons. It is my last year playing with an El Dorado jersey and I want to represent the city the best I can along with my teammates.”