VIENNA, W.Va. -- Haley Byrd was a regular fixture of the Hurricane softball starting lineup in 2012.
Not an everyday, every inning player, Byrd handled corner infield spots depending on where Coach Josh Caldwell needed her, which typically depended on whether Emily Davis or Courtney Rogers were in the pitching circle.
Unlike the 2013 season when Rogers and Davis switched positions between third and pitcher, Rogers played first base as a freshman.
When Hurricane began the year as this writer's pick to win the Class AAA state title -- for those keeping track, the article appeared in the Daily Mail on March 5 -- Byrd was hard to find in a scorebook, much less on the field.
In fact, in the 11 games I covered involving the Redskins in 2013, Byrd had never made an appearance.
Until the Redskins' 5-0 win over Wheeling Park in the Class AAA state title game Thursday, that is.
Freshman Maddie Hebb singled to start the bottom of the sixth inning, with the Redskins leading 4-0. Hebb, who essentially took Byrd's spot in the starting lineup this year by becoming a solid player at first base, was then lifted from the basepaths in favor of Byrd.
"I was just like, 'Me?' That was my first question, and they said 'Yeah, get out there,'" Byrd said of her reaction to getting an unexpected call into the lineup.
Back-to-back singles by Madison Casto and Nicole Pierson followed to load the bases and put Byrd on third. Cassi Sargent then hit a ground ball to Park shortstop Kristen Slater, who wanted to throw home to force Byrd out. Slater misplayed the ball, however, and Byrd scored what proved to be the last run of the season for the state champions.
"I love Haley to death. She's one of my favorite players," Caldwell said. "She's had a shoulder injury most of the year and with about a week or two left in the season I just basically told her -- her shoulder's basically gone -- I'd put her in to run a few times.