If last week would have been a normal one, Jaya Herring, a senior outfielder at Jo Byrnes High in Cedar Hill, Tennessee, probably would have been named as the Extra Inning Softball National High School Player of the Week.
The Middle Tennessee State signee played five games and went 10-for-14 at the plate with seven stolen bases and stroked a key three run inside-the-park home run that allowed her team to tie a game when down 4-1.
But these aren’t normal times with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and with schools being cancelled nationwide, let alone high school seasons, it meant that Jaya’s high school season—and career—could be over, which she was well aware of as she suited up for potentially the last time in the school’s red and white uniform.
“I came out playing my last week knowing that I had to give it my all because it could potentially be my last time playing with this team,” the talented athlete said this week. “I wanted to take it one pitch at a time and leave it all on the field with no regrets. I knew at any minute they could’ve ended the tournament and it could be over.”
Knowing that the season was likely over, the school had a Senior Day which was just Jaya and first baseman Evelyn Helm who were given roses.
Jaya says she had mixed feelings about the honor.
“It was a celebration but was also kind of sad,” she adds. “My best friend plays for Greenbrier (High) and I was extremely upset when she moved there from Jo Byrns, so it was really special to get to experience our senior nights together even though we go to separate schools. It was also bittersweet knowing it could be the end but I enjoyed getting to spend that moment together.”
The senior, who plays for Tennessee Elite in travel ball, was honored as one of the top 200 players in the 2020 Extra Elite 100 and hit .425 as a junior to earn All-Robertson County honors.
Her explosiveness at the plate and in the outfield garnered her a lot of attention from scouts and coaches before she signed with MTSU.
Middle Tennessee State coach Jeff Breeden commented on Jaya’s speed when she signed last November with the DI school.
“(Jaya)’s going to steal a lot of bases and beat out a lot of infield singles," he said. "She'll be a slapper from the left side and she has raw speed."
Whether Jaya plays another high school game or not for the Red Devils, Jaya is happy with the progress she and her small school of about 350 students has made in her time there.
“It has been a highlight to be able to watch my school’s softball program grow,” she adds, reflecting on her four years at Jo Byrns High. “The program has changed so much in the past few years. If you told me two years ago we’d be playing high school softball in Gulf Shores and winning and competing with every school we played, I would’ve never believed it. I’ve enjoyed watching the change of the program and I hope it continues to grow for the girls coming after me.”