HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Karley Nichols has worn many different hats – or should we say gloves – in her 17 years of playing softball.
From the pitcher’s mound to the outfield to first base – the sport is truly a love she has nurtured from Brandon to Southern Miss.
“You can’t help but love it,” Nichols said. “Especially when you’re around people all the time that love it just as much as you do.”
Softball came first for Nichols, around the age of three, but soon she caught another bug – the music bug.
"It just feels so powerful for me to sing,” Nichols said. “I was like a little girl doing karaoke in the middle of the kitchen on my mom's computer, annoying her."
But unlike the softball skills that earned her a scholarship to USM, Nichols was hesitant to show off her voice.
That is until a brush with death changed her perspective on life.
"I became septic from an infection that went to my bloodstream,” Nichols said. “It progressed very rapidly and nearly shut my kidneys down so that was no fun. It was typical for the priest to come in. He came up and started talking to me and I was like, 'Oh no I have so much to do, I have so much life left to live.'"
Then she thought about the life her dad didn’t get to live.
The dad who passed away when Nichols was just three-years-old. The dad she’s watched shred the guitar on old VHS tapes.
The dad she embodies every time she steps in front of a microphone as “Nicky Boaz.”
"Nicky was actually my father's name,” Nichols said. “Actually, it was Nathaniel but everybody called him Nicky. Especially with music being what helps keep his presence alive in my life, I wanted to honor him in the way that I can. It's kind of like my alter ego. That's when I know I'm in music mode – it's Nicky Boaz."
Nicky Boaz has released two songs with Crown Studios of Jackson, with plans to drop an extended play record in the coming months.
Karley Nichols has batted .325 in three years with the black and gold.
While she rounds third base on her softball career, Nichols can’t wait to slide into the next chapter of her life.
“I’ve loved playing softball my whole life,” Nichols said. “It’s definitely taught me the lessons and prepared me to go into life and be confident in what I’m going to do. Music to me is very therapeutic and I get to release my story out for whoever wants to hear it and if they connect to it, that’s great. But I don’t have any of these plans to be like a famous pop star or anything like that. I just want to share my story and hopefully people like that.”