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Scholar Athletes: Two Delta Charter sophomore softball players boast 4.0’s

Caitlin Ballard, left, and Jania Burns both boast 4.0 grade point averages at Delta Charter School, while also playing softball for the Storm. Ballard and Burns are both sophomores. (Ben hillyer | The Natchez Democrat)

Caitlin Ballard, left, and Jania Burns both boast 4.0 grade point averages at Delta Charter School, while also playing softball for the Storm. Ballard and Burns are both sophomores. (Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — Having one athlete on a team with a 4.0 GPA is impressive enough, but having two is a feat Delta Charter boasts proudly.

Delta Charter head softball coach Jeannie Beach has been gifted with two this season in sophomores Caitlin Ballard and Jania Burns.

“That shows what kind of people they are,” said Beach of the two excelling. “Knowing that they are working just as hard in the classroom as they are in the field, and knowing that they have that kind of drive and self-discipline, that takes a lot. That means a lot more to me, what they do in the classroom.”

Both Ballard and Burns said they have been pushing themselves in school since they can remember in hopes of brightening their future.

“I guess I am just looking out for my future and having a plan,” Ballard said. “I’ve got college and then want to have a good job for my family.”

As for that job, Ballard said she wants to become a nurse practitioner and then return to her hometown and start her own clinic.

Burns’ interests also lie in the medical field.

“I want to go to LSU and then transfer to LSU Medical and become a physical therapist,” she said.

But for now, the two are hoping to help the Storm any way they can on the softball field.

Burns is the team’s ace on the mound, while Ballard is one of their best outfielders.

“Jania is our number one pitcher, that alone is enough, plus she is very strong at the plate,” Beach said. “Caitlin is small, but she is like a little package of dynamite. She is a great athlete and outfielder. She sees the ball well off the bat. She isn’t the fastest one, but she seems like it because she has a good jump on the ball.”

Being one of the top players on the team is nothing knew for Ballard and Burns, who have been playing softball since they were young.

“I like to be able to play with my friends,” Ballard said. “I don’t play just because of them, but I think it is a great way to spend time together.”

But a lot of the time the girls spend goes into figuring out how to juggle a sport and school, while maintaining the perfect grade point average.

“It is very hard because I can get lazy and go to sleep,” Burns said. “But I am pushed to do my work.”

Ballard echoed the feelings.

“It is hard having to go from practice to studying for a test or to get homework done,” Ballard said. “But I like a challenge.”

While two years are still ahead for both, Beach said she already sees a bright future.

“They’ll probably be the top two in their class,” Beach said. “I know without a shadow of a doubt they are going to go to college and get a degree. If they choose to play softball, that is up to them. I think they are in it for the long haul though, as far as education goes. They are the two that are going to get the grades.”