DUDLEY - Layla Rackley’s closest friends may not realize that her fascination to see inside the human body has become a passion.
And now it’s soon to become intertwined with her first love - softball.
The Southern Wayne senior signed a national letter-of-intent (LOI) to attend Wake Tech in 2022 and pursue a two-year degree in radiology. She plans to transfer to either NC Central or East Carolina.
“People like to make you think it’s easy to get into Division I and Division II colleges, and don’t realize how hard it is make teams at those schools,” said Rackley, who plays on the Next Level travel showcase team.
“Junior college, for me, is better. Going to a smaller school, you get more one-on-one time with your teachers. Wake Tech has a really good radiology program. If I didn’t decide on X-ray technology, I’d go into forensic science, which is something else that I really love.”
Wake Tech competes in Region X that includes in-state community college members Pitt, Louisburg, Southeastern and Brunswick. Unlike NCAA schools, the teams play a majority of weekend doubleheaders.
The Eagles didn’t play in 2020 due to COVID.
Rackley can empathize.
Southern Wayne played a conference-only schedule in 2021.
She cranked out a team-leading 15 hits and batted .366. In the pitcher’s circle, the right-hander compiled a 2-3 record and tossed three complete games.
The Saints finished 5-7 overall and claimed their first-ever win over South Central in school history.
All those successes created building blocks for 2022.
“We know whenever she’s up to bat that she’s going to make something happen and that’s been proven in these past three years,” said SW head coach Jamie Williams. “One of her biggest improvements is how she’s taken on the role as a teammate. When she sees a teammate that needs help with something, she steps in and doesn’t hesitate to help make them better for the betterment of the team.”
Rackley’s passion for softball is her biggest asset.
A diverse player, she has spent the offseason on fielding and transition. Instead of trying to make a fast and perfect throw for an out, she’s focused on reaction time and motion.
Pitching-wise, she’s developed a “crossfire” with her travel ball coach. It’s a wicked curve that can slip inside the “back door” off the plate.
She’s confident throwing any of her pitches at any time in the count.
That should bode well for the Saints, who entered the new Quad County 3A Conference last fall. The competition level should be more “even,” but Rackley relishes the bigger picture as her prep career winds down.
Williams and her husband/co-coach, Anthony, have infused a positive influence into the program. They believe in making life-long friends and building relationships that will last beyond high school.
“My Southern Wayne experience, I’ve created life-long friends…we’re like a big family and we look at each other as sisters with Mr. and Mrs. Williams as our parents,” she said. “They’re always on us, but always know what’s best for us.”