Cheynne Haxton suffered a misfortune few student-athletes have to deal with during their high school careers – the final game of her junior year turned out to be the last game of her prep career.
The former VCHS student is being forced to sit out her senior year due to IHSA transfer rules following her move out of the Vandalia School District.
Fortunately, Haxton will have the fortune of doing something else few high school athletes experience during their careers – she will get the chance to play at the next level.
Haxton recently signed a letter of intent to play at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, a development she admits she never saw coming.
‘It was very surprising,’ said Haxton of signing with SIC. ‘I didn’t think it would happen. I didn’t even plan on playing college softball.’
Haxton’s plans quickly changed after SIC coach Jim Barton contacted Mulberry Grove High School coach John Barnes this summer.
Barton was in search of a defense-oriented utility player, and Barnes, who coaches Haxton on the Mulberry Grove Jaguars’ summer traveling team, had just the player for Barton.
‘He told him I was a pretty good defensive player, so he took a look at me and liked what he saw, I guess,’ Haxton said.
‘She is a welcome addition to our program,’ Barton said. ‘We feel she’ll bolster our outfield, and possibly play some third base. She’s an outstanding defensive player.’
Haxton hit just .197 last spring for the Lady Vandals, but VCHS coach Jennifer Ades credits Barton for looking beyond batting average when assessing Haxton’s potential value to his program.
‘Her hustle and her desire for the game were what made her an attractive recruit,’ Ades said. ‘She was good on the bases, and I think she was second on the team in steals. She’s very dependable on sacrifice bunts, and she had strong leadership skills in the field as our centerfielder last year.’
And though Haxton would much rather be out on the field this spring, the signing seems to have eased the sting of having to sit out her senior season.
‘Sitting right here, watching them play, it stinks really bad,’ said Haxton as she took in Mulberry Grove’s season-opener two weeks ago against South Central. ‘It’s hard, because I’ve played softball every year since fifth grade.
‘But I still have a lot of softball yet to play.’