Vista Ridge has seven students sign college NLIs

Softball player Daryn Haslam was in the right place at the right time to sign with New Mexico


It was all about timing for Daryn Haslam. 

The Vista Ridge senior went to a softball camp at the University of New Mexico right after the school had a coaching change. The morning after the camp ended, she took her official visit and officially signed for the Lobos Wednesday morning at Vista Ridge.

“When I first started playing softball, I didn’t expect to go this far,” she said. “I got into select after little league It took a lot longer than I expected. It was very stressful. I went to a lot of camps and it was the last thing I tried that worked.”

Six other Rangers joined her in signing to play sports in college: Soccer players Hallie Rutherford (Southwestern), Hanna Sanderson (Southwestern) and Olivia Porter (Angelina Junior College), baseball players Gannon Azios (Tarleton State University) and Dathon McGrath (Tyler Junior College) and football player Jamil Pittman (UTPB).

Haslam said she had another offer from Texas Southern University, a couple Division II offers and some from junior colleges. But her family has gone camping in New Mexico and she knew she liked the state.

She said the moments with the rest of the team at Vista Ridge stand out the most, especially going to the state tournament as a freshman.

“Everything (New Mexico softball coach Paula Congleton) said, I believed,” Haslam said. “It just felt right.”

Rutherford was a first-team All-District selection last season and will team up with Sanderson in Georgetown. Porter will join the Roadrunners’ women’s soccer team next season in Lufkin. 

Azios will join a Tarleton State team that won 28 games last season and reached a record-high ranking of No. 15 in the country by the Division II Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll. McGrath heads to Tyler Junior College, which won the NJCAA National Title last year and is ranked No. 1 in this year’s preseason poll. 

Both of them helped the Rangers make the playoffs last year, where they lost to San Antonio Johnson in the first round. 

Pittman did a little bit of everything for the Rangers’ football team last season, leading the team with 696 receiving yards and six touchdowns and finishing second on the team with 517 yards and eight scores. 

“Since I was around 10, this has definitely been a dream,” Pittman said. “It feels exactly how I expected it would. I’m overwhelmed with joy, family and friends. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Last season, he was the Utility Player of the Year in District 25-6A, was named the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week after the Rangers’ win against Leander in Week and was named the team offensive MVP. 

He said he wouldn’t be where he’s at without Vista Ridge and added the team and coaching staff has done a lot for him, maybe more than they even realize. 

“It’s a place I can really get into,” he said. “The whole area is surrounded by football and the whole area is really into it. I know I’m gonna love it. They’re a relatively new team. I’d really like to go in and start a culture they haven’t had before.”