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Foster signs with USC Salk

Wagener-Salley’s Foster to get head start on college softball

WAGENER — Morgan Foster is special.

It’s clear to see based on her performance on the softball field, where the do-it-all player is helping lead Wagener-Salley to one of its best seasons ever. But Foster is more than a softball player, also standing out as a three-sport athlete for the War Eagles on the hardwood of the basketball and volleyball courts.

Foster isn’t just a talented athlete. She’s also a distinguished student who’s a fixture on the school’s honor roll. Foster’s academic achievements have allowed her to graduate a year early, making this – her junior year – her final one at Wagener-Salley High School.Impressive as her achievements are, Foster’s more than just what she’s accomplished in academics and athletics – she’s a good person. Inspired by her best friend, who has Down syndrome, Foster said she’s motivated to pursue a degree in Special Education and to one day work as a teacher to help disadvantaged youngsters to have fulfilling lives.

For all of those reasons, it wasn’t a surprise that Foster was surrounded by family, friends, teammates and mentors in addition to members of Wagener-Salley’s faculty and administration Thursday, when she signed a letter of intent to play softball at USC Salkehatchie. Foster will get started at the two-year college this fall rather than embark on her senior year at Wagener-Salley.“At the beginning of the year, I decided to graduate early,” said Foster, who started high school with enough credits to put her in position to graduate a year ahead of schedule. “When my travel ball coach got me a scholarship at USC Salkehatchie, I made up my mind and it triggered my decision. It was a tough decision but I think it’s for the best.”

Beyond the opportunity to enroll at and play softball at USC Salkehatchie, there were other factors that played a part in Foster’s choice to graduate early. She said she felt an immediate connection with Allendale, where the college is located. Foster said it’s small-town feel reminded her of Wagener.  Foster added she’s a fan of Indians head coach Kenneth Bellamy, who has told her she’ll be used in a variety of positions. Primarily a pitcher for the War Eagles, Foster’s a talented and versatile player who could be used in any position on the diamond. Foster can line up from the outfield to the infield, even behind the plate as a catcher where she was positioned when she first started playing – baseball.“When she first started playing, she played baseball,” Foster’s mother Cathy said of taking the field with a team of boys. “She had to be convinced to play with girls when she started softball.”Foster said she’s been playing softball all of her life and welcomed the opportunity to continue playing at the collegiate level. USC Salkehatchie might be getting a steal with Foster, who’s one of the driving forces on the War Eagles’ 13-1 Region 4-A championship team. As the team’s top pitcher, Foster has posted a dazzling 11-1 record. She’s been equally impressive as the War Eagles’ cleanup hitter, belting two home runs and carrying a .685 batting average into the final games of the season.“She’s an awesome player, I’m devastated I’m losing her a year early,” said Jennifer Starnes, Wagener-Salley’s head coach. “She’s a leader on the field. She plays three sports and is graduating early with honors. Athletically and academically, she’s a great girl all around.”

The War Eagles have a roster loaded with senior contributors. Foster said the opportunity to graduate with so many of her friends was another factor that played into her decision. It might be the influence of another friend that had the greatest impact on Foster.“My best friend has Down syndrome,” Foster said of Precious Conner, who she made sure to share the spotlight with Thursday. “When I met her, I knew that I wanted to teach and get involved in Special Education.”

To that end, Foster said she’ll pursue a degree in that field starting at USC Salkehatchie and continuing it when she moves on to a four-year college. She mentioned that USC Aiken has a good program in addition to a solid connection with the Indians softball team, making it clear it would be an ideal place to complete her undergraduate degree and continue playing the sport she loves.“I played basketball and volleyball, but I want to play softball,” said Foster, who expects to be used as a utility player for the Indians. “I’ll do anything to help the team,” she said before elaborating on her goals. “I want to maintain my GPA, play softball and work on transferring to a four-year school.”

Starnes expects Foster to excel in whatever she does, wherever it takes her.“She’s going to dominate,” Starnes said.

Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years after graduating from Syracuse University.

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