Hannah Pereda is having the time of her life as a senior and playing girls' softball at Thomson High School.
The reason: the Lady Bulldogs are having their best season ever. And she couldn't be more pleased.
"It's great playing this year, because we're having such a great season," said the 17-year-old Pereda, daughter of John and Ann Pereda, of Thomson. ""We've all worked so hard to get this far."
Pereda, the starting catcher, said she hopes the team does well in this week's Region 3-AAA playoffs, which began in Dublin on Tuesday. The Lady Bulldogs, who finished second in the regular season behind West Laurens in region competition, will wrap up region tournament play today.
"I've had so much fun this season," admitted Pereda during an interview last week with The McDuffie Mirror. "I want us to try to win the region championship and then do well in the state playoffs in Columbus."
Pereda has been playing varsity softball at Thomson High School for the past four years.
And she's played nearly every position. She began her prep softball career as a freshman behind the plate when former star catcher Whitney Hillman got injured. During her sophomore season, Pereda played third base and right field. She anchored third base her junior year and became the starting catcher this season.
As third baseman last season, Pereda was named First Team All-Region.
"I'm hoping to get that same honor as catcher this year," said Pereda. "It really meant a lot to me to be named all-region last season."
She believes, wholeheartedly what Thomson head coach Jason Osborn has told his team countless times: "'We're out here to play softball and get the job done.' "
"When I step onto the diamond, all the problems that I had just seem to go away," said Pereda, who leads the team in homeruns this season with seven. "It's a different world."
Pereda, like several of her teammates, does extremely well in the classroom. She makes straight As.
That's where some of the stress in her life comes from. "If I make a bad grade, I become real angry at myself," explained Pereda, who plans to attend the University of Georgia to become a veterinarian. "I like to do well in school, because I know making good grades is so important to my future."
Pereda already has gained much experience in her chosen field, working as a vet assistant at McDuffie Animal Hospital in Thomson since her junior year. As a senior, she works there every other school day.
"I've always loved being around animals, because they don't talk back," laughed Pereda. "I love animals and I like the challenge they present when trying to make them well."
As for the Lady Bulldogs, she believes the team has something that has lacked in years past.
"Our team really clicks this season," said Pereda. "We're all sisters. We all just seem to mesh. This team really bonded after the big win over Lakeside-Evans. We were able to resolve a lot of tensions."
She's hoping such will continue this week in the region playoffs and into the state playoffs, which will be played soon in Columbus.
Pereda is most appreciative of her coaches.
"Coach Osborn puts everything he's got into this softball program and I have a lot of respect for him," said Pereda.
She also has admiration for longtime assistant coach Bennie Hester.
"Coach Hester is the heart and soul of our softball team," she said. "He listens to us. And he truly loves this sport. He does what he does for our team in a quiet manner. He's one of my all-time great softball coaches."
She's also fond of assistant coach Katie Sutherland.
"Coach Sutherland has been the one to get us in shape for the season," added Pereda. "She pushes a lot of us to be all we can be. And that's been good for us. She's also taught me some good things about hitting and throwing."