By Ray Hamill — For someone who felt her career was coming to an end this year, Sadie Hampton has a bright future ahead of her.
On Monday, the former Eureka High and College of the Redwoods standout signed a letter of intent to play softball at Cal Poly Humboldt next year, capping a remarkable few months for a player who has never looked out of place on the softball field.
At the start of the year, Hampton felt certain this would be her final season playing college softball and admits she didn’t know where she wanted to go after time at CR and what she was going to do.
The sophomore shortstop led the CR women to their best season in 17 years, as they went from seven wins a year ago to a record of 21-15 this spring, and on Wednesday she was named to the All-NorCal Team as one of the best 15 players in the northern half of the state.
“At the beginning of the season I honestly thought this was going to be my last year playing,” she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to live.”
When the season got under way, however, things began to become a little more clear for the 2021 Eureka High graduate.
“I started to pick it up and did really well, and I was having fun,” she said. “Then the Humboldt coaches reached out to me and it all just worked out.”
CR head coach Megan Valente believes Hampton has the talent and mindset to do well with the Lumberjacks.
“I think she’ll have a huge impact at Humboldt,” she said. “She’s fast and she has an amazing arm. She just has so much range. We’re definitely going to miss her impact on this program as a whole.
“She showed up every day and put in 100 percent, and it showed in her play.”
Hampton will join a Jacks program that will have a big local influence next season, including Eureka’s McKenna Beach, who was a freshman on this year’s team, and current Arcata senior Sagen Sarchett, who also has committed to play for the local university.
Hampton will also be reunited with her former high school coach, Katelyn Fox, who is now an assistant coach at Humboldt.
“Katelyn Fox is my all-time favorite coach and I’m definitely excited I get to learn from her again,” Hampton said. “She believed in me right off the bat. In my freshman year, she sat me down and showed me my options, and it honestly helped motivate me.”
Fox also helped Hampton through a tough period in her life as a sophomore at Eureka High when her older sister Bailee passed away, helping the young player cope with the loss.
“She knew how hard I was struggling,” Hampton said. “And it was the same with (coach) Sarah Fox. They made my whole high school experience amazing.”
Cal Poly head coach Shelli Sarchett has followed Hampton’s career for several years and is looking forward to working with her.
“We are excited to have Sadie join the Green and Gold next year,” she said. “Sadie has been a dominant force in high school and junior college softball for the last couple of years and we can’t wait to have her bring her talent and passion to Humboldt.
“She is a very talented athlete with a great work ethic and passion for the game. We are confident she will make a significant contribution to our program and off the field.”
The Lumnerjacks coach believes Hampton is ready to contribute right away in multiple ways.
“We see her making an immediate impact in the lineup, especially in the outfield where we are definitely needing help,” the coach said. “She is gonna provide us with experience and leadership.”
In addition to her two high school coaches, Hampton also paid tribute to her Mad River MIST travel team coaches, Eric Helms and Bob Brown, who she says “taught me so much,” as well as her teammates at CR.
“I’ll definitely remember creating a closer bond with my teammates (this year),” Hampton said. “I got really close with some of the girls. And (I’ll remember) just the whole College experience.”
This spring, Hampton enjoyed an outstanding all-around season and was second in the Golden Valley Conference in batting average (.432) and stolen bases (13), while also leading the Corsairs in RBIs (37), doubles (12) and triples (six).
It was a gratifying campaign for a player after a challenging freshman season.
“Obviously, last year was a very rough season. We barely had enough players to play, and going into this season I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she said. “But then coming in I saw what we had.
“Coach V really turned the program around. I was glad a lot of the girls did as well as they did this season.”
Hampton also made a point of thanking the local community for all the support she has received throughout the years.
“I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has impacted me,” she said. “Softball is a big deal to this community. We had a huge turnout at a lot of our games and that was cool to see.”
Hampton, who was one of three team captains at CR this year, wants to major in Early Childhood Education and plans on becoming an elementary school teacher.
Her younger sister Maeghan Hampton will follow in her footsteps and play at College of the Redwoods after graduating high school this year.