By: Sophie Sumner | ValdostaToday
It couldn’t have been easy living in the shadow of an older sister who has been touted for years as one of Lowndes County’s greatest softball players. However, Tori Hedgecock has worked hard to earn her share of the spotlight.
The upcoming sophomore has been playing softball with her older sister Rylin since she was four years old. Joining their first travel ball teams at ages 7 and 9, the girls started learning their skills at the Valdosta State field under the head softball coach, Thomas Macera, where they still take weekly hitting and pitching lessons. The skills they built led to Rylin’s verbal commitment at the end of her sophomore year to play college softball at the University of Arkansas. Tori was not far behind, coming in 11 months later to also verbally commit to play at Arkansas.
Their unique sisterly bond has played a large role in their careers by constantly pushing one another to be better than their last play. Being the older sister, Rylin was the first to experience college recruitment and high school ball at Lowndes High. Also being the talented player she is, Rylin was the first of the two to receive elite awards from her high school seasons, including multiple all-region and all-state recognition each year.
When asked what it is like to live with the expectations her sister’s accomplishments created for her, Tori replied, “I don’t try to live up to other people’s expectations of what I should be, but seeing her success only pushes me to be better,”.
Tori proved this by finishing her freshman year with her own honors, including All-Region First Team. It was at this point Rylin started realizing that her little sister was on the verge of being a top-level player, solidified by Tori being nationally ranked in the top 15 players of her 2021 class. These awards slowly turned into opportunities for the youngest Hedgecock sister as she followed in her sister’s footsteps.
Both sisters were recruited heavily by other top D1 programs, one being LSU. After Rylin chose Arkansas, LSU began to recruit Tori. Liberty also entered the chase, leaving Tori with a hard decision. She ultimately followed her sister’s footsteps once more and chose Arkansas.
Although she’s excited to play even more ball with her sister, Tori said, “If Rylin wasn’t going to Arkansas, it still would have been my pick just because Arkansas was a perfect fit for me,”.
Being the proud older sister, Rylin said, “I’m so happy we are going to play together in college. I can’t wait to create more memories with her in the future,”.
As the two sisters make their mark on the Lowndes High softball program, their bond grows stronger. Entering her senior year, Rylin has one more season to imprint her legacy before she leaves it to her sister.
In two short years, in a few states west, the Hedgecock sisters will be back on the field together again.