Riley Hull has spent most of her young life on a softball field. On Wednesday morning she arose from bed bright and early to sign her National Letter of Intent to play collegiate softball at Mississippi State University.
From playing on the dirt diamonds in the youth softball leagues as a little girl in pigtails, to traveling all over the United States every summer for travel softball tournaments, to playing on the grandest of stages in an ESPN broadcasted USA Softball 16U Junior Olympics Cup National Championship - Riley Hull's softball journey took an even more majestic turn on Wednesday morning at 7:40 a.m. when she signed her D-I letter-of-intent on National Signing Day.
Almost nine months before she even played in her first varsity softball game, as a freshman at PCHS, Hull committed to the Mississippi State University Division-I softball program. On National Signing Day, the Lady Maroon senior softball standout made it official.
"It’s was so amazing finally being able to sign after three years," Hull stated. "It felt as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders, no more worrying, I knew that it was official and I didn’t have to dream about being a 'dawg' anymore, that it was a reality."
With a COVID-canceled junior season, Hull has only played two seasons on the high school softball field as a Lady Maroon. However, that didn't stop her from garnering many statewide and national awards for her immense softball talent.
Hull, who was named All-State her freshman and sophomore softball seasons, was named the 2019-2020 Kentucky Softball Gatorade Player of the Year, and was the first Gatorade Kentucky Softball Player of the Year to be chosen from Pulaski County High School.
Weeks before the start of the 2020 softball season was to start, Hull was named the top softball player in the state of Kentucky by MaxPreps.com.
In June of 2019, Riley Hull won the coveted Johnny Bench Award, as the top high school softball catcher in the state of Kentucky.
More recently, Hull was awarded with a nod by Extra Inning Softball as one of the top players in America. In Hull's profile on Extra Inning Softball it states, "Riley has been one of the nation's top prospects since 2017. Riley is a two-way threat with a great arm and a dangerous bat. Her most impressive stat is that she has never struck out in high school ball."
Hull helped lead her Tennessee Mojo 16U softball team to the 2020 USA Softball 16U Junior Olympics Cup national championship this past summer.
Hull had a phenomenal 2019 high school sophomore season with a .589 batting average, a .622 on base percentage and a .953 slugging average. In her 2018 freshman season, Hull had an batting average of .520, hit 20 doubles, and scored 27 runs.
And while Riley Hull was excited to be signing for a D-I college softball program, she was also sad to see her high school softball career quickly coming to an end.
"Everything is so bittersweet right now because although I am ready to move on to college, I'm not ready to leave my friends and the lifetime full of memories I’ve made along the way," Hull stated.
A 'picture perfect' swing, hard work, and determination paved the way for Hull to reach the level of success she has already achieved in her athletic career. But her mom, Angie Taylor - and many other people in her life - lent a helping hand in her journey to Mississippi State University.
"My mom has definitely been my rock throughout this whole entire process," Hull stated. "We have been through so much together. The fact that I can say I did this for my mom and I, just means so much to me. I have so many people to thank, I don’t even know where to start."
"All of my travel coaches have been the best," Hull added. "I couldn’t be where I am now without them. I am just truly blessed and thankful for having the best people around me."
As a little girl, playing on the youth league softball fields, they called her Riley Roo. But now they can call Riley Hull a Dawg - a Mississippi State University Bulldog - that is.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.