May 12 was a banner day for Carroll County’s athletic department as five seniors signed letters of intent to play collegiately.
In total, four different sports were represented as twins Samuel and Sydney Haynes signed to run track and cross country at Concord University, Kyndall Hiatt inked her intentions to play softball at Emory & Henry College, and Lane Myers and Brandt Puckett signed the dotted line to play baseball for New River Community College.
The Haynes siblings have firmly cemented the family tradition of running at Carroll County High School. Two of their older brothers, Kendall, a senior standout at Bluefield College, and Jacob, a former Bridgewater College cross country star, also ran at the college level. Still, the twins said they weren’t specifically looking to run at the same university.
“It just kind of worked out like that,” Sydney said. “The coolest thing is we can have one car and not spend all our money on gas.”
“If we both disagreed with each other’s choice, we would have gone separate ways but we both liked the same college,” Samuel said.
Running will be a full-time gig at Concord for Samuel and Sydney, who both hold school records at CCHS for the 1600 meter and 3200 meter events. Both will be receiving scholarship money at the Division II school to run cross country, outdoor track and indoor track.
“Really it will be year-round except for the summer,” Samuel said.
Many factors went into the twins’ decision to run for the Mountain Lions. Aside from loving the campus and the atmosphere there, the two both loved the fact that Concord has strong running programs that made it to nationals last year.
“And only one guy graduated off that team and the coach said I would be better than him,” Samuel said. “That’s one reason I wanted to go there.”
In addition to an established, competitive program, the siblings also developed a great relationship with Concord coach Mike Cox.
“I am pretty close to (Carroll County’s) Coach (Pat) Sharp and Colonel (Mark Carper) so I wanted a coach I could be close to,” Samuel said.
Both Haynes siblings are members of the National Honor Society. Samuel plans to study athletic training, while Sydney hopes to go into pre-physical therapy or athletic training.
Emory & Henry’s softball program is on the rise as the Wasps made the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2017 for the first time in 14 years with a 34-14 record. A versatile athlete who played every position at Carroll besides pitcher and first base, Hiatt will certainly add to Emory’s improving program.
As a sophomore catcher, Hiatt earned first-team all-conference and second-team all-region honors during the Cavaliers’ state championship season before being sidelined toward the end of the season with an eye injury. She batted .486 that year and tied the team lead with two home runs and was second on the squad with 30 RBIs. She also caught four of the seven base runners that tried to steal bases on her.
Last year as a junior, Hiatt moved to shortstop for most of the season. She continued to put up incredible numbers, again earning first-team all-conference honors as she hit a smoking .506 batting average and led the team with six homers, 44 hits, 16 doubles and 38 runs scored.
Hiatt has moved back to catcher this year and has continued her outstanding play. Despite a slow start to the season, her batting average has steadily risen to its current total of .420.
“They are going to get a girl that can play (anywhere). She is versatile. She has a quick bat, and for her size, she’s got a lot of power,” Carroll County softball coach Rick Nester said. “And speed, she pretty much has the complete game. A lot of teams don’t run on her much and she does a real good job blocking the ball. I don’t know if Emory will leave her behind the plate or look at her as an outfielder or middle infielder. I think she can do it behind the plate. She does an excellent job back there and it’s a natural position for her.”
Hiatt said the Wasps actually recruited her as a shortstop. It’s the position she plays in travel ball with her Charlotte, N.C.-based team. She said she may also play some middle infield and possibly some outfield for Emory. A member of the National Honor Society, Hiatt said she will be receiving a very strong academic scholarship package from the school. She thought so much of E&H that she turned down nearly a full scholarship to play at UVa-Wise.
“I love everything about Emory. There is nothing I don’t like about Emory – the campus, the coaches, the players on the team, everything,” Hiatt said. “I actually got almost a full ride to UVa-Wise but I turned it down because I fell in love with Emory.”
After scouting Carroll County senior catcher Lane Myers, New River Community College ended up coming away with a package deal, picking up shortstop Brandt Puckett in the process. It couldn’t have worked out any better for the lifelong baseball buddies.
“I had been looking into a few different colleges, small community colleges. I was looking at the best financial options and it just kind of popped out of the blue. Coach (Matthew) McCue messaged me and said he was real interested,” Myers said. “I said, ‘Let’s set up a meeting and go work out,’ and while we were at the workout, he was looking for a shortstop. And I said, ‘We’ve got one looking to play college baseball,’ so now me and my best friend Brandt Puckett get to go play college baseball together. It’s amazing because me and him have been playing against each other since the age of five and playing together since the age of nine. We just have a real good chemistry together.”
Myers said he wants to study accounting at NRCC in hopes of moving on to play baseball at a four-year college. If that doesn’t work, he said both he and Puckett are friends with the owner of a minor league baseball program, so pro ball could also be an option.
Puckett said he was looking at other schools, but once New River coaches started messaging him, things happened fast. He plans to study general studies at NRCC and transfer to a four-year school most likely geared toward a degree in education.
“I’m excited about playing with Lane,” Puckett said. “We have been friends for as long as I can remember and played against each other all those years.”
Carroll County head coach Kevin DeHaven said Myers and Puckett are two of the hardest workers he’s been around in the years he’s been coaching Cavalier baseball.
“They are dedicated, stay after practice and hit, work on catching and blocking the ball, ground balls, without even asking to stay. They will stay until sometimes I have to come back and run them off the campus,” DeHaven said. “They are hard-working and dedicated – great team players. I can’t say enough about them.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN