Dalton High School Catamounts

August 9, 2013

Prep softball preview: Champs reloaded

Northwest Whitfield High School’s softball team wrote the perfect ending to its 2012 season, winning the Class 4A state title in a dramatic extra-inning victory against Madison County.

But like everyone else, it’s time for the Lady Bruins to work on a new beginning — and they’ll do so without ace Emily Boyd, The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Softball Player of the Year the past four seasons, who has moved on to pitch for the University of Mississippi.

Dalton, Murray County and Southeast Whitfield were all scheduled to open their seasons Thursday at Model’s Lady Blue Devil Invitational — tournament organizers got special permission from the Georgia High School Association to begin play a day before the GHSA’s “official” earliest date for competition — and the rest of the area’s teams will all have begun play by early next week.

Here’s a glance at the varsity programs in Murray and Whitfield counties:

Christian Heritage

The Lady Lions start the season needing more wins and more players.

During its first season of GHSA competition, Christian Heritage went 6-17 overall and 4-6 in Sub-region 6A-A and missed the state playoffs. And just like last year, coach Mike Leonard’s team will be forced to improve on those numbers with a thin bench.

“Right now, we only have nine healthy bodies,” Leonard said earlier this week. “We have a really, really good core of freshmen coming in and we have five or six strong eighth-graders for next year, but that doesn’t help a lot right now. School isn’t open yet, so it makes it a little hard, but we are going to have to pick up a couple of players.”

First baseman Megan McKinney is the lone senior on the team, which has five freshmen on the roster. The team has just one junior, Micah Kilgore, and Leonard said McKinney will have to fill the leadership vacuum created by the graduation of the coach’s daughter, Rebecca Leonard, a member of The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Softball Team last year who signed with Samford.

In addition to her leadership contributions, there were plenty of statistical ones — she led the team in batting average (.426), on-base percentage (.576) and was also the winning pitcher in all six of the team’s wins.

“(McKinney) is going to have to be a leader because we are so young,” Leonard said. “I don’t think that they will come into this as freshmen and be intimidated, but they need a leader. She is going to have to step up and be a little more vocal. We know she will bring a great attitude, and we hope that will show for the team.”

With the low numbers and no depth at catcher — Haley Jones moved from her natural position at third base to behind the plate — the Lady Lions will have to play a little different style of ball.

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Dalton High School Catamounts
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    Throughout his 17 years with the Carpet Capital Aquatic Club and his 16 years with the Dalton High and Dalton Middle School swim programs, Charles Todd has received looks and offers from other areas.
    But with his youngest child Chase still in school and his wife playing a major role in the Whitfield County Division of Family and Children Services, Todd wasn’t looking to make a move.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7on7 championship game6.jpg Bringing in the best

    When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
    For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wil Cushman 3 mlh.jpg Cushman’s gamble is paying off

    Wil Cushman never had to worry about establishing his high school’s swimming and diving program. Dalton already had a full roster and championship history.
    His first two years at Birmingham Southern University, though, have been all about making sure the beginning wasn’t the end.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW softball state championship file 1 mlh.jpg In the lineup again

    When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
    Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Junior golf: Hicks able to hang for final round

    Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.

    June 18, 2014

  • Isabel Salinas 5 mlh.jpg All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age

    Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
    One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • poty seth.jpg All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

    As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

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    As Dylan Carlile saw more and more of his peers receiving offers from college wrestling programs, he became nervous.
    The Dalton High School grappler had nothing to worry about, because when the time came, he had his choice.

    May 22, 2014 1 Photo

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    In the Class 4A girls state golf tournament last year, the Dalton High School team finished third at Nob North Golf Course. Monday, playing in the state championship at Waynesboro Country Club, the Lady Catamounts finished second by just two strokes.
    “There is just one more place left to win,” Dalton coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “They have the time ahead of them to do it.”

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • dhs bass signing1.jpg Nelson keeps a tight line

    Multiple high school athletes from the area sign scholarships each year for baseball, basketball, football, softball, volleyball and many other sports.
    Bass fishing scholarships? There aren’t many of those.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo