Written and Media by Jaylen Shelton.
Speaks has always had an interest in playing softball. She said, “When I was younger, it started with my dad playing tee-ball with me; as I grew up, my dad became a coach and I continued playing.”
Speaks has not looked back since then. She attended Lutheran High School South and was a very dominate athlete. In 2012, she was a part of the All-District First Team and All-Conference Second Team. In 2013 and 2014, she was apart of the First Team All-District, Conference, and Regional Team. Speaks also won the MVP and was the defensive player of the year. She was also able to win the Missouri State All-Sportsmanship and Integrity Award. Speaks wanted to continue her dream of playing softball even after she got out of high school, which is one of the reasons she came to Greenville University.
While she was in high school she came on a visit to Greenville. Speaks said, “Out of all of the schools the I visited Greenville had the kindest people. That got my attention the most. Everyone was inviting and I felt like people wanted to know who I was and that’s one of the main reason I choose Greenville.”
During her freshman year of college, she played in a total of 32 games and started ten of them. In those games, she had a batting average of .311, which is her best so far in her career. Speaks was also able to hit three home runs and drive in nine runs. She pitched a total of 78 innings and had 15 strikeouts in the games that she pitched.
Going into her Sophmore year, she got a new coach, Buddy Foster, who was looking to make an impact instantly. “Coach Foster has been amazing, he’s really done his best to bring our program up and to make sure the atmosphere was great for us girls. He’s a really amazing coach and I’m very lucky to have him as a player,” Speaks said.
Thanks to coach Foster’s help, Speaks improved from her previous season, especially when it came to pitching. The number of hits that she gave up was much lower. Speaks gave up only 37 runs, threw 15 strikeouts, and only allowed a single home-run. Batting wise, she had 19 hits and 6 runs. Speaks also saw an improvement in RBIs, as she had four more than the year before. Speaks had two home-runs with a batting average of .211.
Out of all her years on Greenville’s softball team, her junior year might be her best. This year in pitching she has had her lowest ERA (earned runs averaged) out of all the years with a 5.15. She has only allowed 35 runs and 3 home-runs off of 58 hits. She has thrown 13 strikeouts and has only allowed 27 earned runs.
When it comes to batting, she has 19 hits, 9 runs, 2 home runs, and 18 RBIs. Her batting average this year is a .292, which is the second-highest in her career. Speaks said, “My goal this year is to make sure that I have no regrets. I want to leave everything out on the field.”
With Speaks having a great junior year in softball, she has helped the team qualify for the conference tournament. This year in conference, the Panthers had a record of 15 wins and only three losses. They made the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) championship. The Panthers are going into the championship with a lot of confidence, with the help of players like Speaks.
Even though she loves playing softball, she doesn’t plan to continue playing after she graduates. Speaks, who is an Exercise Science major with a Coaching minor, plans on going to PT (physical trainer) school once she graduates from Greenville.