As a hitter, making contact with one pitch can make a huge impact. If you're not locked in, you step out of the batter's box and get yourself comfortable. Macey Webb, a junior on South Carolina's softball team, is also focused on trying to make a difference in the lives of others, one person at a time, by stepping out of her comfort zone. Webb has taken part in mission trips to Roatan, Honduras, during each of the last three summers.
"Being there the last three years, I've really been able to develop a relationship with some of the young girls and boys on the island," Webb said. "I keep going back, and I get to see them grow and also grow in their faith. It's a really cool opportunity and experience. The biggest challenge is when you get there, and you see how impoverished they are. We're only there for a short period of time, and it's really hard to come back to the lush life that I have here. They have so little, and yet they are so grateful and so thankful."
Webb has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll each year at South Carolina and is studying political science with aspirations of going to law school.
"A part of me wants to do international law after seeing just how rampant prostitution is in Honduras, and how young girls are getting raped at a young age, but they have no voice," Webb said. "It's something that's been tugging on me for a while. This country needs some good attorneys here too."
Webb began making the trips to Honduras with some friends after graduating from West Stanly High School in North Carolina and finding information through Live Again Ministries.
"We decided that instead of going on a normal senior trip, we would go do something good with our time," Webb said. "We hooked up with a group out of Georgia called Cross Training Sports Camps. We did a bunch of sports camps and went into the schools there in Honduras. We'd play games with the kids and teach them how to play things like whiffle ball, and they love soccer there. Then we'd take a break and do a Bible story with them, have a snack and try to get to know them a little better."
She went back the following two summers after her first two seasons at South Carolina as part of Cross Training Sports Camps.
"I really felt called to go back and keep giving back to the island," Webb said. "When I first went, I thought it would be a one-time thing. I really recognized there is a great need in the hospital they have there. It's very unsanitary. So in the second year I went back, I collected baby clothes and things like that to take to the hospital and give to the moms. I did that again this past summer, but I also made special little bags for each individual mom with special clothes, baby wipes and diapers. I also did the sports camps."
Webb also took part in a special needs camp while in Honduras this past summer. Webb enjoyed playing baseball with a young boy with autism named Jonathan.
"In third-world countries in general, they don't have the resources like we do here to deal with special needs kids," Webb said. "When they're born there, people feel like there is something wrong with them, and they're sort of treated like outcasts. Some people treat them like the family is plagued."
Despite speaking only a little bit of Spanish, Webb doesn't have too much trouble communicating, as some of the locals speak English and there are also interpreters readily available. While many college students are thankful to use the summer as a chance to blow off some steam or relax, Webb can't imagine a better way to spend some of her "down time."
"I'm not much of a partier, and I'm really strong in my faith," Webb said. "I wanted to do something that is worthwhile. With my friends, we all decided that this is something that could change our lives."
As part of a faith-based mission, Webb finds many of the people she comes into contact with in Honduras to be very accepting to the Christian mission, but she also understands that not everyone will be on board with those teachings.
"Some of the `street boys' have a harder time with it because they've grown up with a lot of violence in their homes," Webb said. "There are a lot of kids there who don't know who their dads are because maybe their moms were victims of rape, and that's so rampant there. That's hard to see. Some of them do eventually accept what we tell them about Jesus, and they go out into the communities with us and help us through that.
"We're not always talking about the faith. When we're playing games, and some kids are cursing or throwing elbows, we ask them, 'how do you really want to represent yourselves?' "
Exposure to the sad truths about how hard life can be in other countries has been an eye-opening experience.
"The hardest thing is having to leave the kids," Webb said. "This past year, I got really close to a little girl named Amy, and she has special needs. We got really close, and it's tough because her mom actually pimps her older sister out like a prostitute. We're really afraid it's going to happen to Amy when she gets older. Those situations are hard to deal with. I'm only there for a short time, and I can't always be there to protect her. It's hard to come back and know that's still going on there.
"The best part is when someone comes to know Jesus, and they tell you `thank you' for taking time to show you care and showing that you love them by taking time to come there. Those are life-changing moments."
As she prepares for her third season with the Gamecocks, used primarily as a pinch hitter so far, Webb hopes to do whatever she can to help South Carolina reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Off the field, she hopes to model herself after her late great grandmother, Mildred Howard, who helped raise her.
"She was that person that everyone loved," Webb said. "I just want to be a good-hearted person that everyone knew was a genuine person who you can come to and trust. She was that example for me."
Webb is considering another trip to Honduras next summer, and looks forward to making a difference where she can, one person at a time.
"That's the whole purpose of going on these trips," Webb said. "Even if it's just one life changed, at least you know you made a difference. I know that won't wipe out all the bad things that happen there. It won't wipe out all the rapes and drug trafficking and all the violence, but it is possible to make an impact in one kid's life. If you can do that, it means everything."