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Softball player enjoys grand-slam Whitworth experience

Chelsey slides into home plate during a game.As an outfielder on the Whitworth softball team, freshman Chelsey Hayes, '18, has played a key role in her team capturing the 2015 Northwest Conference crown: She hit her first career grand slam, and she ranks third in the conference in batting average and total hits, fifth in doubles, and fourth in triples.

Hayes credits her coaches for challenging her to grow in her game. "My coaches encourage me all the time," she says. "If I make a mistake, they correct what I did and then cheer when I fix the problem. I always know they are pushing me to become the best I can be. If I get a hit during a game, they expect me to get three the next game. They make me believe I can do it."

Hayes, a nursing major, says the Whitworth community has helped her grow off the field, as well.

"I chose to study nursing at Whitworth because this university is very committed to academics, which is important to me," she says. "I am challenged in my classes so I know I am receiving a great education."

Hayes says the softball coaches are committed to her and the team's academic success. "Our coaches are focused on us getting the best grades possible," Hayes says. "I had to be in the library or studying at least 10 hours a week at the beginning of the year in order to develop good study habits and get into the college rhythm."

Beyond the field, Hayes says she has experienced personal growth through her immersion in the Whitworth community. "I have grown into a more independent and mature person at Whitworth," she says. "Being at this university has definitely changed my life for the better."

After graduating from Whitworth, Hayes plans to work as a pediatric nurse in a hospital near her hometown of Puyallup, Wash.