Parkview Baptist standout Nicky Dawson’s softball journey started out in physical education class _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- Parkview Baptist shortstop Nicki Dawson: 'I realized I could have a future in softball, so I took it seriously. Then I started to love the game, so I wasn’t playing just because I was good.'

The genesis of Parkview Baptist senior all-state shortstop Nicky Dawson’s career began in the school’s gymnasium.

Nearly six years ago, that’s when Parkview softball coach Ashlee Weems first saw Dawson playing wiffle ball in her middle school P.E. class. Weems, a former LSU standout, became intrigued at the prospect after seeing her whistle the ball through the gym with her right arm.

“I asked her if she ever played softball, and she said no,” Weems said. “I told her she should give it a try.”

In what may have been the unlikeliest of places to launch a softball career, Dawson has risen to heights not even Weems envisioned; parlaying a five-year varsity career into all-state acclaim, success on the travel-ball circuit and a commitment to LSU.

“I don’t think any of us, even Nicky, imagined this,” said Weems, who called Dawson the fastest player she’s coached or played with. “The sky’s the limit for her. She wants to work, hates to lose and loves to compete.”

Dawson put together one of the more memorable seasons in program history, leading Parkview Baptist to a 26-9 record and Class 3A state quarterfinals last year.

Dawson set school records for batting average (.602), slugging percentage (1.033), runs scored (76), hits (74), stolen bases (59) and triples (14). She was selected The Advocate’s Small Schools Most Valuable Player and was named Class 3A first-team all-state.

Moreover, Dawson earned Mariucci’s state player of the year honors.

“It was by far my best season,” said Dawson, who only committed seven errors at shortstop. “I believe every number increased, and my strikeouts went down, which is what I focused on. Now, I have to do even better, and that will be my biggest obstacle.”

What Dawson, a career .465 hitter with 202 steals, may have lacked in experience during the infancy stages of her climb to softball stardom, she more than compensated with athletic ability.

Dawson flourished in martial arts, earning a third degree black belt in Taekwondo and blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Dawson was also a rising star as a 5-foot-7 running back on Parkview’s sixth-seventh grade football team. During that time she had five touchdown runs of 80 yards or more.

Then there was her admitted first love, basketball, where Dawson established a school record for steals in a single season as an eighth-grader, earning the district’s defensive MVP, and averaging 17.7 points.

By the time she was a freshman, Dawson eschewed her helmet and football cleats, and tossed aside her basketball shoes, in favor of diving head first into softball.

Parkview was coming off a Class 3A state runner-up finish and the team’s success only fueled Dawson’s passion for the sport. She moved from second base to shortstop and batted .504 with 14 doubles, a pair of homers and 36 stolen bases.

Softball became a year-round pursuit with Dawson, who has a 3.85 grade-point average, continuing her development after the high school season with three straight summers of playing for Weems’ travel ball teams.

This summer Dawson was a member of the East Cobb Bullets and Louisiana Voodoo and collectively batted .552 with five triples, 17 RBIs and was 47 of 47 on steal attempts.

“I realized I could have a future in softball, so I took it seriously,” Dawson said. “Then I started to love the game, so I wasn’t playing just because I was good.”

Dawson’s taken the necessary steps to reach her current status. She’s refined her left-handed slapping game with former Parkview and LSU standout Jacee Blades serving as her hitting coach. She’s worked with a fielding coach and lifts four days a week.

“Whether I break the numbers of a year ago or fall short, I’m going to be satisfied if I lead the younger players,” said Dawson, one of PBS’ three seniors. “This is the last time I’ll do what we’re about to do, and then it’s going to be over with. I want to lead the team to where we need to be.”