Hadsell inks with Pioneers

Notre Dame’s Makayla Hadsell signed with Marietta College on Tuesday afternoon in a signing ceremony held at Notre Dame High School. Bottom row from left, Rhett Hadsell (father), Makayla Hadsell, Kristi Hadsell (mother). Top row from left, Notre Dame softball coach J.D. Whitman, Notre Dame basketball coach/athletic director J.D. McKenzie.

Hard working people tend to find their way to successful programs.

For Notre Dame’s Makayla Hadsell, that fact proved to be true on Tuesday afternoon.

Hadsell, who has played in the Titans’ infield over each of the last two seasons, officially signed with Marietta College as the senior will head to the Pioneers’ softball program in order to blaze a trail as a student-athlete from the 2017-18 season on forward.

And for the infielder, the opportunity is a dream come true.

“It feels great,” Hadsell said. “It’s always been a dream of mine, especially since I was 11 or 12 years old, to go and play college ball. That dream stuck with me as I grew up, and it’s never wavered.”

For J.D. Whitman, the signing is special considering that he’s known Hadsell since her Little League days and has watched her grow into the person that she has become today.

“It’s great to see kids who have that sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing that they’re going to go to the next level to further their education and their career,” Whitman said. “Marietta College is a great school. It’s a Division III school and it’s a great place to play softball. Makayla made that decision to go there and take on that responsibility of being a student-athlete. I’m proud of her for her character, hard work, and the maturity that she showed in making her decision.”

Hadsell, who is Notre Dame’s second softball signee from this year’s senior class, joins Catelynn Ball (Alice Lloyd) in taking on the ever-rare task of signing to play for a collegiate program.

According to Whitman, Hadsell, along with Ball, has only helped improve the level of the program as a whole.

“Makayla and Catelynn came here at the same time when they both decided to come to Notre Dame,” Whitman said. “Both of them are good at the plate, good in the field, and will, along with Hagen Schaefer, bring senior leadership to the table.”

Since coming to Notre Dame, Hadsell’s confidence in her own game has only grown thanks to the support of the veteran head coach.

“(J.D.) has been great,” Hadsell said. “He’s been really helpful in the decision as far as helping me decide which college was best for not only me as a softball player, but for me as a person.”

And at Marietta, it looks as if Hadsell will be heading to a place that supports its players in a similar light.

Jeanna Arbuckle, who has coached with the Pioneers since 1988, will begin her 30th season with the program in 2017. In 16 of the previous 29 seasons at Marietta, Arbuckle has guided her Marietta College units to winning records, with a dozen of those 16 seasons featuring teams that have won at least 20 games or more.

In nine out of the last 10 years, Arbuckle has led her teams to .500-plus marks, and during her entire tenure, has produced 35 All-Region and 69 Ohio Athletic Conference honorees. She holds an overall record of 520-466-3 over her career as the head coach of the program.

“(Jeanne) was wanting me to go there from the get-go as soon as she reached out to me,” Hadsell said of her future head coach’s support. “Ever since that time, she’s been so helpful with the application, getting accepted (to Marietta) and the financial aid. She’s been incredibly helpful.”

That comfort level that Arbuckle has established at Marietta, according to Hadsell, was evident in the time that she spent with her future teammates.

“I visited Marietta back in the fall at an open house, and then I came back to spend some time with the team overnight,” Hadsell said. “The time that I spent with the team really helped me in my decision to play softball there. Marietta’s a small community as well, and that also drew me there. I have done so much better, both academically and athletically, since I came to Notre Dame, so I knew that Marietta was the best fit for me.”

At the end of the day, however, Hadsell knows that the opportunity wouldn’t be possible without the support system that has remained stable in trying times.

“My Notre Dame family has always pushed me to be the best that I can be, along with all of the teachers and coaches that I have had throughout my lifetime,” Hadsell said. “Most importantly, my parents (Rhett and Kristi) have been great throughout the whole process,” Hadsell said. “They have always pushed me and have always supported me, even at younger ages. They have always been there for me in any situation.”

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter at @ColleyKevin7