Athlete of Week: Merriam’s roller-coaster ride nears end

cfsoft-merriamCarolina Forest High softball standout Emily Merriam and her teammates didn’t get to go to Disney World for spring break to play in a tournament as they had hoped.

But for Merriam, who has been pitching for the Lady Panthers since her seventh-grade season, her high school career has already been a bigger roller-coaster ride than anything Mickey Mouse could have thrown at her.

“We didn’t raise enough money to go but we were able to pick up a couple of games in the Mingo Bay Classic at Socastee,” said Merriam, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her play at the plate and on the mound. “It was disappointing, especially in my senior year. We were all looking forward to it.”

Merriam has grown accustomed to hitting highs and lows at Carolina Forest. Her freshman year the Lady Panthers advanced to the Class 4A state finals and were one win from the championship before suffering back-to-back losses.

Led by current Alabama standout Marisa Runyon, Carolina Forest was geared up to make a repeat run at the state championship the next year in Merriam’s sophomore season, but the Lady Panthers were eliminated in a doubleheader sweep by Bluffton.

Merriam hopes to go out on top in her final season, but her high school career is assured to have a happy ending after signing a college scholarship to play at Lees-McRae (NC) College. After spending the last six seasons playing softball year-round, she will get the chance to play Division II ball and get her degree.

“It’s taken a lot of time and hard work but it is all paying off,” said Merriam, who played travel ball in the fall and summer and high school ball in the spring. “It’s a small D-II school but I am going to get a lot of pitching time and it’s in a beautiful area that reminds me of my hometown (in New York). I’m excited.”

But Merriam’s experience has taught her not to get too high or too low, and to take them one thing (or batter) at a time. She hopes the long roller-coaster ends on a high note with only a few more weeks left in her high school career.

“It’s been bittersweet,” Merriam said of her up-and-down career. “It’s been a big roller-coaster ride since I started till now, but I feel this year we can make a good run. If we can play good ball the rest of the way, we’re going to be a good contender. We can definitely go far.”

Photo by Rancier Photography

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