At the end of a long game against Chestatee high school sophomore center fielder Danyia Blakely, who goes by Mimi, pats her teammates on the back. “We’ll get them next time,” she said.
Blakely has played varsity softball for Cedar since her eighth grade year. She ended last season with a .409 batting average, nine total hits and 10 runs scored, tying with a teammate for the most hits on the team.
This season Blakely had a .077 batting average with two hits and three runs scored.
“This year was not my best year. I feel like I took a step backwards instead of forward, but I’m working on it,” Blakely said.
Although Blakely has had weaknesses this season she continues to be a key part of the team’s success.
“When Mimi completes plays and knows exactly where to go with the ball she can be kind of a silent force,” Head Coach Brittany Ritter said.
As Blakely strives toward her goals of playing softball in college and playing professionally, she also sets an example for her teammates.
“(Mimi) is very energetic. She always steps up first to show the new girls how to do each drill,” junior left fielder Ja’shiah Turner said.
“(Mimi) is always our leadoff hitter and the leader of the outfield,” sophomore Mallory Huntsman said.
Blakely plans to better herself as a player by taking private lessons and taking time to practice by herself.
“I want to be able to play different positions on the field,” Blakely said.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s softball season has come with changes. Blakely and the rest of the softball team have adapted to Georgia High School Association rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s been an extra layer of anxiety,” Ritter said.
Some of the precautions include temperature checks before bus rides, practices and games as well as social distancing implemented in the dugout, limiting the number of players who can be there at one time.
“(It) makes it hard for us to communicate,” Blakely said.
Early in the season Blakely had reservations about playing during the pandemic.
“I was worried about becoming sick, because a lot of my teammates had family members with corona. But I didn’t want to stop playing because I’ve never shown any symptoms,” Blakely said.
Despite the extra precautions and the changes to the team, Blakely continues to be a leader, role model and friend to her teammates.
“She’s always the first person to come up to you and ask if you’re okay, pat you on the back or give you a fist bump,” Huntsman said.
In Blakely’s next two seasons with the team, she plans to prioritize helping out new players while improving her own skills.
“Our team would be totally different if she wasn’t there,” Coach Ritter said.