The world takes on a different meaning every time Heather Shivers takes to the field to play softball at Thomson High School.
"I tend to be a real stressed type person," said the 17-year-old Shivers. "I do the best I can with trying to handle it. When I run onto the field to play softball, it seems that all of those stresses and worries just go away. That's what playing softball does for me. It's really a lot of fun and a great stress reliever."
Shivers, a senior, is the starting center fielder for the Lady Bulldogs -- a position she has anchored as a starter for the past four seasons. She is the daughter of Scott and Debbie Shivers of Thomson and Dona and Jeff Hornung of Evans.
She hopes this season is the team's best. And she believes the team can actually win the Region 3-AAA championship this season.
"We have a lot of flow and get along real well with each other," said Shivers. "We have a lot of talent, too. I think we can win the region championship this season. I really do, if we continue to work hard."
Shivers said a state title isn't out of the realm of possibility.
"Winning a state championship would really be nice, but to go as for as we can in the state playoffs without beating ourselves would be pleasing to me," said Shivers, whose Lady Bulldogs have begun making a name for themselves throughout Georgia.
Thomson played West Laurens for a share of the No. 1 spot in region action last Tuesday and lost the game 4-1. At the time, the Lady Bulldogs were ranked 10th in the Class AAA state poll, while West Laurens was ranked sixth. Since then, Thomson has gone up to sixth in those rankings, while West Laurens fell to eighth.
"I hope we can start making a run towards the playoffs," said Shivers, whose offensive and defensive play earned her the honor of 1st Team All-Region last year. "We're playing pretty good right now. I just want us to continue to play good and win games."
Shivers, who attends Thomson High as a senior and a freshman at Augusta State University three days a week, said she is appreciative of the team's coaches, Jason Osborn, Bennie Hester and Katie Southerland.
"We have very good coaches," said Shivers. "Coach Osborn has taught me so much. I admire him very much.
"He has worked with me so much on my throwing -- techniques that get runners out. He's also taught me and the other players a lot of life-skill things, too."
Shivers isn't the only one in her family who enjoys playing softball.
She has two sisters who love the sport as much as she does. Maegan Bentley, a sophomore, is the ace pitcher for the Lady Bulldogs, while her younger sister, Morgan Bentley, is a pitcher on the Thomson Middle/Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School softball team.
She is a member of West Acres Baptist Church in Evans, aspires to become a teacher someday. She is majoring in early childhood education and plans to minor in Spanish.