An hour before her team's practice, 8-year-old Peyton Sharp of Garner was already hard at work at a recent practice.
She is always on the field early, she said, “so I can get extra practice.”
That extra practice is led by her father, Scooter. He drills his daughter on fundamentals and pushes her to get better.
“It stinks,” she said. “He's mean. He has to yell at us almost every single day.”
Whether he is yelling or comforting, the father's approach seems to be working. Peyton won the 8-year-old division of the pitch, hit and run competition held at Atlanta's Turner Field in June.
“That's the reason I push her so much, because I saw it early and want to bring out the best out of her,” Scooter Sharp said “So I continue to push her and have been her coach since 4.”
Peyton said she has practice Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. That's a lot of practice, but Team Sharp has a plan and everyone has a role in her development.
Her mom, Patty, is the cheerleader.
“I'm her advocate,” Patty Sharp said. She gauges the pulse of her daughter, making sure there is a balance in her life.
“When we give her the option to not practice or stay at home with her friends, she wants to be at the ballfield,” Patty Sharp said. “This is her favorite place to be.”
But Peyton also enjoys challenging the boys, on the court and on the field. They respect her as an athlete, but it doesn't always sit well with the boys that she is so good and is playing on the team.
That's OK with Peyton. She'll just head back to the practice field and put in more work because, she said, “I want to be better than all the girls.”
She was better than thousands of girls across a six-state region when she captured her division of major league baseball's pitch, hit and run competition. That accomplishment has her family swelling with pride.