The decision was about as difficult as thumb-wrestling an empty glove.
Father, Jim Fuller, attended Fresno State.
Mother, Kim Fuller, attended Fresno State.
Brother, Nathan Fuller, is currently a Bulldog.
Oakdale High sophomore softball standout Haley Fuller is destined for cardinal red and blue — and she hasn’t shrugged aside her inevitable fate.
The slugging infielder who made a splash on Oakdale’s varsity softball team last spring recently gave her verbal commitment to attend Fresno State on a 75 percent tuition scholarship.
She is the second player on Oakdale’s promising 2013-14 softball team to deliver a verbal agreement (Lauren Sanders committed to UC San Diego in the summer), and is likely to soon be followed by sophomore twins Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth.
Fuller said Fresno proved an easy selection, considering her family’s tradition with the University, but knows she will be blazing a whole new path as the first Bulldog athlete of the family.
“Ever since I was very little I wanted to go to Fresno State,” Fuller said. “It runs in my family.
“Once I knew they were interested in me, it sealed the deal for me.”
The commitment leaves Fuller with time to concentrate on her prep and travel softball progression as she continues to oppose some of the top young talent in the nation.
She faces elite competition as a member of the NorCal Firecrackers, and was thrust into a vital role with the OHS softball program when coach Larry Loger designated her for infield starting duties to begin the 2013 season.
“Being a freshman on the varsity team gives a bit of stress because you are one of the youngest ones, but I have played with all of the girls before and I knew them well.
“They were all welcoming and I love all of the coaches, so everything was good.”
Fuller is one of six OHS starters scheduled to return for a promising 2013-14 campaign that will feature the entire returning pitching staff and a hoard of talent at the plate.
Fuller’s own plate prowess was undeniable after a stellar freshman campaign. She smashed a home run off league rival East Union, added another four-bagger against Lathrop and was spectacular during Oakdale’s run to 11 straight victories late in the season.
It’s the same type of success she managed with the NorCal Firecrackers, ultimately the biggest contributor to her recruitment efforts after showcasing her at elite travel tournaments. At OHS, it’s a ritual habit for top-notch softball players to gain prestige through the travel-ball system. It’s also a reason Oakdale has historically competed so well in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“Almost all of the girls play travel ball,” Fuller said. “They are all very talented and they make it such a good group of girls to play with.”
Fuller expects to join the Bulldogs for the 2017 season. Most of the current roster will have departed by then, save for true freshman standouts Jill Compton, Hannah Harris, Taylor Langdon, Paige Gumz and Whitney Smith.
Incredibly, Compton (All Mountain West Conference honoree), Harris and Langdon started every game of 2013 and represented 357 of the 360 innings pitched by Bulldog athletes. Gumz (All MWC) and Smith also started every game in the Bulldog lineup and combined for 73 base hits.
It’s an impressive nucleus of freshman talent, not unlike the one featuring Fuller and the Hackbarths at OHS. If Fuller wants to make an impact (likely at third base) amidst that group, she will have to be spectacular.But the first of the family to earn athletic recruitment to Fresno State may just have what it takes.