Athlete of the Week: Tale of two sports for Hemingway

consoft-hemingwaythrowAsk Conway two-sport star Neci Hemingway to choose her favorite game and you will hear crickets.

“Basketball or softball? That’s a good question,” she said, stalling for time while racking her brain. “I would have to say … both.”

Fortunately for Hemingway, she doesn’t have to choose anytime soon. The eighth-grader was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her performance on the softball field, pitching a shutout against rival Myrtle Beach while going 3-for-3 at the plate.

But she is equally proficient on the basketball court and couldn’t dream of giving up one sport for the other. She has played for the varsity squads since the seventh grade and has a long dual-sport career ahead of her before having to pick just one.

“I’ve been playing both for about five years and I like them both,” Hemingway said. “Sometimes I come home from basketball practice and go outside under the street light and practice pitching with my dad. I play travel ball too and it takes a lot of time, but I love it.”

Hemingway has even started going to a personal pitching coach to improve upon her natural 65 mph fastball. The extra work is starting to show this season, with as many as six different pitches in her arsenal. Most batters simply know them as strikes.

Hemingway has also been flexing her muscle at the plate, batting .364 with three dobles, two triples and a home run. Her combination of power and speed are part of the reason the Lady Tigers are excited about making a repeat trip to the playoffs this season.

“We’ve got a good team and I think we have a good chance to go to the playoffs,” said Hemingway, who has blended in well with her high school teammates despite still going to middle school. “I know most of the girls and they have been real welcoming.”

Hemingway has four and a half seasons left to make her mark on Conway’s basketball and softball programs. And if she keeps excelling at both, she may not have to decide between the two sports anyway.

“That’s my goal is to go to college and play both,” she said.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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