When the collegiate fast-pitch softball season gets under way at Southeastern Louisiana University, a former Lady Longhorn could be on the mound for the Lions.
Only last week, former Payson High School pitching star Rachel Ray accepted a full-ride scholarship to the Division I university in Hammond, La.
The scholarship offer from Lions' coach Pete Langlois came as a surprise to Ray who, at the time, was in Colorado participating in a softball tournament as member of the Phoenix-based Scorpio team.
"He called me and told me what he could offer," Ray said.
"He also invited me (to the campus) for a visit."
Ray accepted the invitation and traveled to Hammond July 27.
"I loved it there. It is so pretty and so green," she said. "I'm very excited about this."
The real selling point of the school was its well-regarded undergraduate program in nursing.
"That's what I'm going to major in and Southeastern is highly ranked for RNs," Ray said.
Before accepting the scholarship at Southeastern, Ray was bound for Paradise Valley Community College where she also had received financial aid.
"I had to call my coach there and tell him about the Division I (offer)," Ray said.
The Southeastern coach apparently learned of Ray's considerable hurling talents from Central Arizona College recruiters who had seen her play last season.
A midwestern coach also praised her abilities.
"I think there was a recruiter from Southwest Missouri at the (Colorado) tournament who told him about me," Ray said.
Ray will report to the university Aug. 18 where she is slated to share an off-campus apartment with a softball teammate and a Lions volleyball player.
On the university level, Ray will compete in both fall and spring ball.
During her four-year tenure at PHS, Ray built a reputation as one of the best pitchers in the state.
Known for the velocity of her pitches, she also sported tough-to-hit rise balls and change ups. Ray's arsenal also included a drop ball that she threw on occasion.
Before departing Payson, Ray says she will stop by Payson Physical Therapy to thank Scott Nossek, Jared Tenney and the staff who aided in her rehabilitation from injuries she incurred in the past.
Ray also praised PHS coaches Will Dunman and Kadie Tenney for assisting in her development as a pitcher.