Alyssa Barker was sure of one thing when she graduated from Western Hills High School four years ago — she wasn’t ready to be an ex-athlete.
Now a senior at Campbellsville University, Barker is wrapping up her athletic career.
The Tigers are playing in the Mid-South Conference tournament this week in Danville. The tournament gets underway Thursday with Campbellsville taking on Shawnee State at 12:30 p.m.
“One of the main reasons for picking Campbellsville was the softball program,” Barker said. “That’s one thing I didn’t want to give up after high school. I wanted to continue on, especially since it could help with my education, help pay for college.”
That’s just what playing softball has done. Barker will graduate Saturday with a degree in art.
This year Campbellsville is the No. 3 seed in the Mid-South tournament. The Tigers are 39-15 with a 26-10 conference record.
Barker has played in 42 of the Tigers’ games and started in 25.
A catcher her first two years at CU, she’s played in the outfield the last two seasons.
“That’s one thing about playing here,” Barker said. “You’re never sure how much you’re going to play. There are a lot of talented players, and you can be battling it out with freshmen for playing time. Everyone gets a fair chance.
“I don’t think of myself as better than the other players. Everyone is fighting for their lives, and whoever is hitting is going to stay in the game.”
The Tigers got off to a fast start this spring and had a 24-8 record before hitting a rough spot, going 2-7 over a two-week period from late March to early April.
Campbellsville is on a 13-game winning streak heading into the conference tournament.
“We’re doing pretty good,” Barker said. “We started out the season better than any season since I’ve been here. Then, like teams do, we hit a slump, but right now we’re getting it back and looking good.”
Completing her degree has also taken plenty of Barker’s time. She recently had an exhibit on campus that consisted mostly of photographs she’s taken the past four years in Campbellsville, Louisville and Frankfort.
“The show was my senior exhibit,” she said. “My focus is in photography. I learned how to frame photogaphs, how to hang them. There’s a very specific way you have to hang a gallery show.
“They were all from Kentucky, mostly around the central area. I thought those would be the most appealing to people. I didn’t want people to look at them and know what they were looking at. I wanted them to look at the tag and be very surprised.”
School won’t end for Barker when she graduates Saturday. She’s continuing her education at the Art Institute in Nashville beginning in August.
“I feel like I need to learn a little bit more,” she said. “I came to Campbellsville a little more for the softball program. Now I need to focus more on photography and education.
“I’d love to work for a magazine,” she added. “I have an emphasis in graphic design. I’d like to intern with a photographer and see how the qualities I have and the skills I have, see how they fit working down there.”
But first comes the conference softball tournament and the end of a journey that started when she was 8 years old playing in the Frankfort Parks and Recreation Department’s softball leagues.
“I’m not sure it’ll hit me until it’s over,” Barker said. “I feel content with it. It’s the end of a chapter of my life. Any time a chapter ends you’re sad, but I’m not sure how sad I’ll be since I’m looking forward and not behind. We’ll see if the tears come.”