Lake Braddock softball slugger Amanda Hendrix has a passion for paleontology


Lake Braddock first baseman Amanda Hendrix moves toward a bunt during the team’s softball playoff game with Madison on June 2. (Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)
June 11

Lake Braddock junior first baseman Amanda Hendrix’s hitting prowess is known across Virginia’s 6A North region.

In close game situations she is often intentionally walked to keep her from driving in runs or wreaking havoc on the base paths.

Hendrix will carry season totals of four home runs and 29 RBI into Friday’s 6A state semifinal game against 6A South region champion Cosby at Robinson.

But the first-team all-region and 2013 first-team all-state selection’s time as a fearsome left-handed batter could come to an end after next season.

Hendrix has received softball interest from Villanova, Massachusetts, Harvard and Hartford, but she told each school she wasn’t interested before it could even offer. None have Hendrix’s desired major — hydrology or petrology mixed with paleontology.

Hendrix’s career goal is to be a paleontologist, and she’s willing to put aside her decorated softball career to pursue it.

The affinity for dinosaurs began before she began grade school. In 2000, the BBC aired a documentary series titled “Walking with Dinosaurs,” and though only 4 years old at the time, Hendrix was captivated.

“I’d always been into animals and nature, and that TV series was just amazing, and it had really good graphics,” Hendrix said. “I sort of fell in love with dinosaurs then.It’s a stage that everyone goes through, but I did not grow out of it.”

Hendrix says her love for dinosaurs came from her mother, Penny, who collected fossils on her aunt’s farm in Mongo, Ind., just north of Fort Wayne. Her father, Jerry, is the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, and Hendrix’s interests beyond the diamond also extend to fishing, archery and riding four-wheelers.

In October, she took visits to the University of Montana and Montana State, both of which have wildlife biology and paleontology majors. While at Montana State she met well-known paleontologist Jack Horner, who is a professor at the school. She talked with Horner for more than 20 minutes and toured the Museum of the Rockies on campus. She also saw the allosaurus fossil that appeared on “The Ballad of Big Al” on BBC one year after the “Walking with Dinosaurs” series.

“It was one of the best weekends of my life,” Hendrix said. “It was so much fun, and I really wish I could go there again and work on everything.”

Hendrix has psoriasis, which requires her to be in warmer, more humid climates. As a result, neither Montana school is a college option for her.

Her top choices, strictly for academic purposes, are Appalachian State and North Carolina State, both of which feature hydrology and petrology programs with paleontology. Hendrix would have the possibility to walk-on to the softball team at either school.

“It’s a huge commitment to play in college,” Penny Hendrix said. “We love the sport, and it’s been a way of life for our family for eight years now. But we think she needs to make the decision that will best benefit her for her grades.”

On Friday, Hendrix will don the jersey of the third-ranked Bruins (24-2) for the school’s first state tournament appearance since 2002. Her left-handed bat will be called upon to spark a Lake Braddock offense that has averaged 9.4 runs per game this season but managed a meager 10 combined over its past five games.

Hendrix has plenty of time to decide the course of her academic and playing future, but she is focused on cherishing the state tournament experience.

“I would miss it a lot,” Hendrix said. “It’s something you have to really work at, and physically you gain certain talents that you know you couldn’t have without the hard work. It’s really rewarding to help out a team and be a part of something bigger — I would definitely miss it a lot.”

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