On Thursday, Nov. 15, the White Hall Bulldogs softball program had one of their athletes sign her national letter of intent to further her playing career with the Central Baptist College Mustangs, senior pitcher Skylar Yates.

Yates is going into her fourth season as a member of the Lady Bulldogs softball team, and she's ready to take that next step for her head coach, Mark Aikens. A part of taking that step will be her being a leader for the underclassmen, and to help show them the Lady Bulldog way as others did for her in the past.

"I'm ready to become a leader like the other seniors that were ahead of me," Yates said. "I want to lead the younger players and be there to encourage them,"

Yates has played summer tournament softball with the Texas Glory and Head Coach Scott Knight.

Among those in attendance at her signing was Knight, and he told his story of how he's seen Yates grow from a player that he slightly doubted to one who is going on to play on the next level.

"Without a doubt, this is my favorite part about being a coach," Knight said.

"I feel like with Skylar, I kind of owe her an apology because I underestimated her a little bit. The cool part about it is it doesn't matter what other people think, you just have to go out there and prove yourself. She's proved herself over, and over, and over. It just seems like every time Skylar has gotten her opportunities, she's helped us a lot. I'm really proud to just be a part of the journey."

Aikens has coached Yates at White Hall going on four years now, and to see her evolve as a player has been special.

"She's been a fun one to deal with," Aikens said. "I've watched her really grow and mature. She's gotten stronger every year, and last year she really stepped into the role that I needed her to step into. She did a lot for us last year, and I expect nothing less this year."

Going to the next level, Yates will have an advantage that pitchers need, and that's her strength. Aikens spoke highly of how he believes that her strength is one of her most noticeable attributes that she will walk in with from day one at Central Baptist.

"She's strong, she's very strong," Aikens said. "In the weight room she can probably out-squat every girl in the school. As a pitcher you have to have your legs, and as a hitter, too. Her determination and her strength separates her."

As for Yates, becoming mentally strong over her time at White Hall and throughout her summer tournament career has been key for her.

"I've gotten better with dealing with hard times," Yates said. "I've grown mentally. You definitely have to be mentally prepared because it does strain on you if they're hitting you a little, and your defense isn't on its game. You have to keep it all together."