Sydnie Henson found herself sitting next to an old teammate Monday afternoon. And it wasn’t the girl to her left, former Greenwood teammate Abbey Lejong.
Henson will reunite with Alma’s Hailey Ostrander today as the 60th Arkansas High School East West All-Star games kick off in Conway.
"It’s really fun," Henson said. "We played about six or seven years of travel basketball and softball growing up. It’s fun being back on the same team together."
"It’s really neat playing with her again," Ostrander said. "I have high expectations going up against other players. It means a lot knowing I had the opportunity to be here."
Henson and the Lady Bulldogs won their first-ever girls state softball championship last month. She and Lejong were named to the East all-star game, by virtue of playing in the 7A/6A-Central.
The West All-Star squad includes former Southside shortstop Paige Mendoza.
Conference foes Ostrander of Alma and Tori Stafford of Van Buren are also participating in today’s game.
"It’s exciting meeting new people," Lejong said. "I think the competition is going to be good."
"It’s fun having people (teammates) we know," Henson said. "Hopefully we can finish off the season on one final good note."
Henson will take her softball talents to Arkansas Tech. Ostrander is headed to the University of the Ozarks, and Lejong and Stafford are headed to Drury University (Springfield, Mo.) and the University of Tulsa, respectively.
Stafford, who set Van Buren’s school home run record, did it all for the Lady Pointers, hitting home runs, playing steady shortstop, and pitching.
"Actually I want to go out here and represent my school," Stafford said. "It means a lot to be here. It shows all the work we put in paid off."
"It’s really a big accomplishment," she said. "I’m glad I’m getting the opportunity to do this."
Hayden Headley sat next to players until Monday he’d never met.
But that didn’t his spirits as the former Lavaca star athlete prepared for today’s East-West All-Star game in Conway. For Headley, this is his swan song — his final game as a baseball player.
"It’s an honor to be here; all these guys are great players," he said. "I’m very blessed for the opportunity. For me, this is it."
Ty Harpenau, who compiled a 6-2 record with a 1.53 earned run average at Southside this spring, will play his final Arkansas baseball game before heading to Lubbock in two weeks to enroll in summer school at Texas Tech. The All-Star experience isn’t a first for his family, either.
Older sister Elise was a all-star volleyball participant.
"That was really cool, watching her play in the all-star game," Harpenau said. "I’m really excited to play against these guys and have a good time."
Former Ozark right-hander Coleman McClure was soaking in Monday’s festivities with the look of a bright-eyed little boy. McClure set a school record for wins in a season last spring while compiling a 9-3 record with one save. He had a 1.03 earned run average.
"It means the world to me," he said. "Walking in the gym, and seeing all these people — that’s really neat. I want to go out there and play like I do any other game and have fun."