By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Jeff Fayne is familiar with the sacrifices of being a top-notch baseball player.
When he was a standout at Munford, he went straight to the pros with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Years later with the support of his wife Chance, Jeff got an education in the department of being a top flight father.
“I would wake him up out of his sleep a couple of hours before he had to get up to go to work,” Jeff’s daughter Jasmine said. “‘Hey Dad, can we get in a few rounds before you have to leave?’”
All the extra time invested in his daughter Jasmine officially paid off Dec. 14 in the Munford High School Library when she signed her letter of intent to play softball with Southwest Tennessee.
About to enter her fourth and final season with Head Coach Glenn Goulder and the Lady Cougars, these days Jasmine has added people like Munford Assistant Coach Tony Reed to her helper list.
“Now it’s the same thing I’ll ask of Coach Tony of our softball team,” she said. “‘Can you hit me a few more ground ball? Our can we do one more bucket?’ I will do whatever I can to get me extra practice to get better.”
Getting better each day has allowed Jasmine to reach her dream of playing college softball. Sharing in the moment at her signing ceremony were Southwest Head Coach Keith Gentry, Coach Goulder, her sister Telsey, parents Chance and Jeff, and grandparents Phyllis and Jim Helton, Isaac and Clay Peete and Corky and Sandy Clowes.
“I had no clue in the years of me playing ball, I would one day be able to play and see what it is like playing in college,” Jasmine said.
Goulder knew Fayne had the ability to play at the next level batting nearly .300 last season with 4 home runs and 8 doubles. Fayne slugging percentage was .569 driving in 22 runs.
“Jasmine brings a lot of offense to the program,” Goulder said. “She has a really quick bat. She hits a whole lot for power. She hits more doubles and home runs than she does singles. She’s a threat when she comes up to the plate and she knows the strike zone. We’re going to play her at first base this year.
“She has real soft hands,” he added. “We had her out in the outfield and that was OK. I think she’s a lot more suited for first base. She’ll fit in real well there. They’ve got one who flew under the radar. I think he’ll be very, very pleased with her.”
Fayne said the compliments are very humbling.
“It just brings a smile to my face that the hard work and dedication that I’ve had has paid off to the point people see me as an asset to their team,” she said. “I feel like I can only get better with their guidance and help. Just makes me feel amazing that he views me as a great ball player.”
Greatness seems to run in her family.
“I come the Peetes and the Faynes,” Jeff said. “I signed right out of Munford High School with the Cardinals. I played Minor League ball for five year. But this wasn’t something we pushed on her.
“This is something she wanted to do,” he added. “As long as your kids are involved and want to do something, you get behind them. She made a name for herself.”
As Jasmine grew up in Tipton County, she quickly learned about her father, cousins, grandparents and others who succeed in sports from Millington to Covington.
“Everybody would expect you to play sports, to play something or everything in my family,” she said with a smile. “That is just how my family is. We want to motivate each other. Like they always say, ‘It’s in our blood to play something.’
“We have to find our little niche in something and be amazing,” Jasmine continued. “My Dad is just an inspiration to continue to play ball as long as I can, the best that I can to my abilities.”
Chance said her daughter has blossomed into a great ball player and beautiful young women seemly overnight.
“It’s emotional especially with her signing for college ball and with her graduating,” she said. “She just turned 18 yesterday. So this is very emotional. It has flown by.
“She had natural ability,” Chance added. “She could have done more. She could have pitched and played other positions. Well that’s me, Ms. Never Satisfied. We saw natural ability in her. Of course she gets it from her Daddy and his side.
Jasmine said Mom’s support and honest criticism kept her grounded over the years of recreation and travel softball.
“My Mom has told me things even when I don’t want to hear it,” she said. “Even when I do really well, she lets me know what I need to work on. My Mom isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, but she’s isn’t afraid to tell you how amazing you’ve done or how proud she is of you.”
Both parents stood in the Munford Library happy for their daughter. For Jeff the little girl who started in Coach’s Pitch in Atoka Dixie Youth has taken the next step in fulfilling her potential.
“Very proud father today, we knew once she came into this world she was going to do something special,” he said. “This is just a piece of the cake. We’re hoping she goes on to do big things and reach all her goals and just live a happy life.
“A lot of hard work on her part, staying in the yard all day long, in the garage when it was raining,” he concluded, “she actually had me doing things when I wanted to be asleep. She was pushing me to help her get better. It was all her will, her drive. She just took it and went forward.”
go to www.millington-news.com