Alma softball's Jacklyn Petree and Lydia Swarnes prep for playoffs and life after high school

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier
Alma's Jacklyn Petree watches the ball after the hit during a game on March 16, 2021, at the Alma Softball Field. Petree is one of five graduating seniors for the Lady Airedales and is heading to Mountain Home for the Class 5A state playoffs.

Of the five graduating seniors from the Alma softball team, four  plan to go into the medical profession.

Jacklyn Petree (pitcher) is attending Arkansas Tech University-Ozark to study occupational therapy. Lydia Swarnes (left field) plans to attend the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville to enter the pre-med program to become an orthopedic surgeon. Bailey Webb (right field) is also attending ATU-Ozark to study optometry. Kelsey Shepherd (catcher) is attending Arkansas Tech to major in nursing.

Shelbi Hesson (second base) is attending UA-Fort Smith to major in education and coaching.

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"I thought they were going to be doing different things but this gives us something else to talk about," Petree said. "But I am going to be a little bummed out when the season ends. I've played softball for 14 years and with three of the girls for almost that long.

"We have come so far this season. Now that we know how each other works hopefully that will carry us far into the playoffs."

Petree also pitched for the Lady Airedales this season. Her wrist injury may have kept her from throwing, but it didn't diminish her role.

"Jacklyn has worked hard over the last four years and has been a great leader for us this season," coach Charla Parrish said. "She's had a great attitude and is always cheering on her teammates."

Alma's Lydia Swarnes races to first base during the Lady Airedales final home game of the season. Swarnes, co-valadictorian for her senior class and entering the premed honors program at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, and the rest of the Alma squad head to the state playoffs in Mountain Home.

Swarnes, who also played volleyball, said she was conflicted about playing her final home game at Alma and celebrating her senior day with classmates.

"We do get another game to play, so our season isn't over," Swarnes said. "At the same time, it's the end of the school year and everything is coming to an end."

Swarnes has played with many of her teammates since she was 9, and that's what kept her going.

"It's always fun to be able to play with them," Swarnes said. "We had our ups and downs this year. When we come out here to play, we're here to win and to support each other."

Swarnes is also one of two valedictorians for her graduating class.

"Lydia is one of those athletes who work hard and has a great attitude every day," Parrish said. "She's a very athletic lady and has been a great leader for us."

Alma (10-4) faces White Hall at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Class 5A State playoffs in Mountain Home. The Lady Airedales tied Vilonia (10-4) for second in the 5A West, but the Lady Eagles hold the tiebreaker.

"It's been a great season, and this is my first time going to the state tournament," Swarnes said. "We have high hopes. Hopefully, we can win some games and advance far in the tournament."