During her four-year career with the Harlan County Lady Bears, Farren Clark was something of a trailblazer for a program trying to learn how to compete with regional heavyweights like North Laurel, South Laurel and Clay County.
She ended her career the same way. She signed last week to continue her career at Union College, the first player from Harlan County High School to sign a softball scholarship since Tim McElyea took over as coach.
“Farren signing with Union is a big step for her and our program,” said McElyea. “She was part of 87 wins here in her four years, had a career batting average of .392, was a great base runner and bunter and played a solid third base. She will be hard to replace, as her arm and quickness at third saved us on many occasions. She was a pleasure to coach on and off the field. I will miss her dearly.”
“I am excited to be able to not only continue my education at Union College, but also continue playing the sport I have loved since I was 5,” Clark said. “Union has a beautiful campus, and they have been very welcoming and helpful to me, and I look forward to studying biology there.”
Clark brought a gritty style to the field, making the plays at third base while igniting the HCHS offense with her speed and athleticism at the top of the order. She graduated last month as one of the best to ever play for the Lady Bears.
In 101 bats as a freshman, Clark hit .356, then improved to .429 as a sophomore with 15 doubles and five triples. She hit .387 as a junior as HCHS set a school record for wins with 27.
In leading Harlan County to a 25-9 record and a 52nd District championship this spring, Clark had her best all-around season with a .394 average along with a team-high four homers, including one in an extra-inning loss to Clay County in the 13th Region Tournament.
“She ended her career on top, showing a lot of heart and power when we needed it,” McElyea said. “I’m so happy she gets this opportunity. She doesn’t realize yet that this will open the door to other Lady Bear softball players in the future.”
Clark is looking forward to the challenges ahead, but reflected back fondly on her high school career.
“While playing for Harlan County, I found the coaches really cared and wanted us all to become better players and people in general. I was pushed to the point to where my mentality was as strong as ever. I learned you cannot bring anything onto the field with you but your best game,” Clark said. “By the time I was a senior, I felt that my team was unstoppable just because we all helped each other, and the key to that was becoming a family. I was trained to play as a team, not as an individual. That is what gave us the record that we had. I intend to take what I have learned from some of the best coaches around to Union with me and continue to be the best I can be. I may have received the scholarship, but the whole Lady Bear team deserves credit, too.”
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134