LEBANON — Choosing a college was more about academics than athletics for Lebanon's Hailey Cummings.
In the end, Cummings, the leading hitter in the metro-east with a .606 batting average this past season, chose Union University in Jackson, Tenn., to continue her softball career.
"My choice was based more on academics,'' Cummings said. "I found out that 96 percent of their pre-med students get accepted into one of their top three medical schools. My decision was based on academics, and it just so happened they had a good softball program, too.''
Cummings wants to be a sports orthopedic surgeon, which has been her dream every since reading Dorothy "Dot'' Richardson's book, "Living the Dream.'' The book details Richardson's journey from Olympic gold medalist softball player to physician.
"I've always been interested in medicine,'' said Cummings, who was co-valedictorian of her graduating class this spring. "What really got me interested was when I read Dot Richardson's book when I was in the sixth or seventh grade. She wrote about how she decided to be an orthopedic surgeon and her struggles with softball and being a female in a mainly male-dominated field. It's my favorite book.''
Cummings said she observed a spinal orthopedic surgeon at work twice last summer.
As for softball, Cummings concluded her high school career with a .477 batting average. She compiled 184 hits, 116 runs scored and 73 RBIs. Cummings edged out Columbia sophomore Taryn Pena, who hit .593, for the batting title in the metro-east this year.
"I love hitting,'' Cummings said. "I definitely take pride in the fact that I could do that this year. It was a struggle with the girl from Columbia. She's a really good hitter. It was hard for me to win that title this year.''
Cummings also served as the Greyhounds' pitcher out of necessity. She had a 10-11 record with a 3.72 ERA this season. For her career, she had a 32-17 record with a 3.18 ERA.
Cummings said Union University is looking at her as an outfielder and potentially a pitcher.
"There are days that I do and days that I don't,'' Cummings said of enjoying pitching. "It just depends on the day I guess. It's nice to now I have an option going in. I'm not stuck on one position.''
Union University's softball team captured the national championship in National Christian College Atheltic Association this spring.
The Bulldogs are currently making the transition to NCAA Division II, and Cummings said the softball team will be eligible to compete for the NCAA-II national title by her sophomore season.
Cummings, 18, is the daughter of Scott and Paula Cummings, of Lebanon.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.