Spring sports spotlight: FSHS senior CF Haley Lockwood-Peterson turns attention to college career

Free State's Haley Lockwood-Peterson tries to run out a throw during the first inning against Shawnee Mission West, Thursday, May 4, 2017 at Free State High School.

There is no way of knowing now, but Free State’s softball team seemed poised for a third consecutive state title this year before the 2020 season was canceled due to the threat of coronavirus. The Firebirds brought back plenty of production from a team that went 23-2 a season ago to defend their Class 6A state crown.

FSHS figures to be a contender once again next season, especially with a number of key contributors coming back, but not everyone is so fortunate. Haley Lockwood-Peterson, who has held down the centerfield spot throughout her FSHS career, missed out on what could have been a memorable senior season.

Lockwood-Peterson will play at Cottey College at the next level, but that doesn’t take away from not having one final run.

“I cried a lot; it was very disappointing,” Lockwood-Peterson said. “I’ve played softball with a lot of girls that I play high school ball with. I’ve played with them my entire life.”

Lockwood-Peterson was especially looking forward to returning to the lineup for the Firebirds.

During last year’s run to the state title, Lockwood-Peterson agreed to not being in the batting lineup. She still served as the team’s starting centerfielder, and provided a steady presence in the outfield throughout the season.

Lockwood-Peterson, who was utilized as a hitter in the first two years, accepted this new role as a junior to give the Firebirds their best chance at success.

“I’m not a power hitter and that’s what we were lacking in the lineup,” Lockwood-Peterson said. “I knew my part and my place on the team. I needed to perform on the field and I was there to support my teammates.”

But that quality has really defined Lockwood-Peterson’s career as a softball player. She’s always put the team first, while wanting to make an impact in whatever role was necessary. It is why she ended up finding a home in the outfield in the first place.

Lockwood-Peterson played catcher all the way until the start of her high school career. Prior to her freshman campaign, Lockwood-Peterson was asked to switch to the outfield to provide an immediate impact.

The adjustment was easy for Lockwood-Peterson, who likes the idea of being in control. Like the catcher position, Lockwood-Peterson has a major influence on the game from her spot in centerfield. She has the ability to track nearly any ball in the outfield with her range.

“It has become my happy place,” Lockwood-Peterson said. “I like how much space you get. I enjoy having the control of the outfield.”

Lockwood-Peterson admitted that her favorite moment as a Firebird was snagging the final out of the sub-state championship game in 2018. The Firebirds eventually netted their first state title in program history a week later.

As a hitter, Lockwood-Peterson’s mindset is just to get on base by any means necessary. Still, she was looking forward to another year of development at the plate before going to play at Cottey College, which is a private women’s college in Nevada, Missouri. She plans to study biology, and pursue a job in the medical field.

For now, Lockwood-Peterson is going to do what she can on her own to prepare herself for tougher competition. While she will always wonder what she missed out on, Lockwood-Peterson plans to make the most of having four more years on the softball diamond.

“I hope that it will make me enjoy the next four year a lot more,” Lockwood-Peterson said.


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