GALLATIN - To say that former Gallatin softball standout Juli King had a memorable college experience would be a major understatement.
Following her four-year career playing for the Green Wave under coach Paige Glasgow and coach Randall Silcox, King signed her letter of intent to play up the road at Volunteer State Community College to play for head coach Johnny Lynn.
After two years with the Lady Pioneers, King decided it was in her best interest to take her talents to Union College to play for the NAIA Bulldogs.
According to King, her first year with the program was one that didn’t go as planned.
“My first year, I did not do well at Union,” she recalled. “I was a completely different player after that. That season really put fuel into the fire for me. I knew I was going for it all my senior season.
“Coach [Michael] Raper opened the facility for me at Gallatin over the summer for me to workout and hit every day. I worked extremely hard and when I received my accolades after the season that felt good because I knew all the hard work I had put into the season. It was validation that my hard work had paid off.”
During her senior season, King made sure that her name would stick around long after she graduated from Union College. She set the Union softball program batting average at .486, breaking a 16-year-old record which ranked 15th in the NAIA.
She recorded the seventh-longest hit streak in NAIA history, stringing a 15-game stretch during the month of March. During that streak, King batted .538 (43-for-80) with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs and 29 RBIs as Union went 19-8 in those games.
King also only had one strikeout all season, which she was the second player ever in NAIA history to accomplish that.
She broke the NAIA consecutive at-bats record without a strikeout at 132, breaking the record of 103 that was set in 1997.
“I had no idea I was close to those records until our SID told me and kept me updated,” she said. “I didn’t really think about them much I was just focused on playing the games. My approach at the plate was it’s me versus the pitcher and I never want the pitcher to win.
“If she strikes me out then she wins, so I at least always want to put it in play to make them work to get me out. I always took the approach that I was better than the pitcher. No one struck me out in confrere play, not even the girl who won our leagues Pitcher of the Year, and I can say I am satisfied with that.”
Other accolades King received during her senior season include: First Union softball player to earn NAIA Player of the Week, Bulldog Player of the Week 3x, AAC Softball Player of the Year, All AAC First Team, AAC Player of the Week 2x, NFCA NAIA All-Region II Second Team, Daktronics NAIA Scholar Athlete, AAC All-Academic Team, Union Most Improved, Union Female Athlete of the Year, COSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-American NAIA Academic Softball Second Team, COSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-American Academic All District NAIA Softball First Team, NAIA All American Honorable Mention.
“Honestly, I am always competing with myself to be better but I’m happy with how this senior season went,” she added. “I’ve come a long way since my freshman year at Vol State where I think I led the team in errors but it formed me into a better player.
“Breaking the consecutive at-bats without a strikeout record was special,” she continued. “That record was set the year before I was born and I don’t see anyone beating that for a while. No one can take that away from me.”
The play on the field is something King is very proud of, but she adds that her hard work and dedication in the classroom is something she wants everyone to know about her as well.
“Having a 3.7GPA is special to me because it makes me well-rounded,” she said. “It is really tough to manage your time and schedule because it all revolves around practice. Whether it is the 6 a.m. weights or trying to find time to study for mid-terms but you get out what you put into it and I made sure I put everything I had into it. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
King will graduate in May of 2020 after receiving her degree in Elementary Education.
“I will take a full advanced schedule this fall and help with the softball team a few days a week,” she said. “That will allow me to get experience with teaching the game that I love and in the spring, I will student teach at a school here in Kentucky.”
After graduation King will come back home to Gallatin to help with the Lady Wave softball program.
“I’m very passionate about softball and never want to leave the game,” she said. “That is why I chose education as a major. I knew I wanted to coach one day. I’m excited to give back to Gallatin, a school that gave me so much.”
King finished her senior season with 71 hits, 45 runs scored, 11 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 29RBIs. She stole 17 bases and recorded an on-base-percentage of .516.
“I was definitely frustrated and sad when our season ended,” she recalled. “Softball is all I’ve known since I was seven years old. My life has revolved around that. I felt like I lost a little bit of myself and definitely had a now what do I do moment. I had to get myself together and figure out what was next.
“It was an overwhelming day mixed with a lot of emotions. I can say I was happy and satisfied with what I had accomplished over the years. I’m very thankful for my time playing the game I love so much.”