“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Greenbrier softball head coach Janna Harris pulled out Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when talking about her senior center fielder, Raylon Roach, who signed with Austin Peay State University.
Roach stands at just 5-foot-5 but makes up for it with her tenacity and speed.
“Raylon is tiny in stature,” Harris said. “She’s not a big girl. She’s fast; she’s a slapper... She’s a quiet leader. She’s not very vocal. She shows up; she leaves. She gets the job done, and she goes about her business.”
Roach’s parents introduced her to the game at the age of 3, and she has loved it ever since.
“When I was born, my parents, off the bat, were already coaching (softball), so I grew up around it and fell in love with it and never wanted to do anything else,” Roach said.
She grew up with it, and her family has always spent a lot of time around the Greenbrier High School program.
“Raylon has played for us since she was a freshman, but she’s grown up in the community,” Harris said. “That was one of the things I spoke about at her signing, is how I’ve known her since she was a little girl.
“She’s always been there. Her family has always been very invested in our program, and she’s always been at games. She’s just kind of grown up around Greenbrier softball.”
Harris said Roach’s work ethic is unmatched, spending her childhood working on improving her game. Roach spent so much time at the field, her dad just got his own key made, so she could come and do work on her own.
“I’m really proud of her, but she earned it,” Harris said. “She’s been to lessons. She’s been to workout sessions. She’s travelled all over the country to play travel softball. This is a goal that she’s wanted for herself since she was a tiny tot. She’s done all the things to get there.
“When she wasn’t satisfied, she would take extra reps, take extra cuts, run extra sprints. She’s done it herself. Of course, I’ve had the privilege of being her coach, but more than anything, I’ve been a cheerleader and an encourager.”
Roach feels blessed to have this opportunity after all of the time and effort she has put into making her dream come true.
“It really means a lot just because not everybody has this opportunity,” Roach said. “It’s finally here, something I’ve been working for everyday of my life since I was 3, and I’m just really excited to play four more years after high school.”
Though she is graduating, she is not moving too far away from home. Austin Peay is located in Clarksville, which she says is the “perfect distance” away from Greenbrier.
“I wanted to stay close to home,” Roach said. “It’s the perfect distance, not too far, but not too close. When I went on my visit, I fell in love with the campus and the coaches. I loved the atmosphere.”