North Murray High School Mountaineers

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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North Murray High School Mountaineers
  • s-CCHS softball 8.jpg On a mission

    The local girls who visited the Dominican Republic last week on a mission trip through Score International tell a matching story.
    Toward the end of a visit to Pasitos de Jesus, a girls orphanage in Boca Chica, the children began singing the Gospel song “Mighty to Save” to their visitors.
    “It sent chills down your spine,” said Kala Franks, a rising senior at Coahulla Creek High School. “I felt they were ministering to me rather than us ministering to them.”

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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

  • North Murray-Newton2.jpg N. Murray second at Cam Newton

    Members of the North Murray High School football team and coaching staff pose with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, standing center, after finishing second in the third annual Cam Newton Foundation 7 on 7 Football Tournament at North Cobb High School in Acworth. The Mountaineers will advance to face other regional tournamentwinners at the Charlotte (N.C.) Championship Tournament on July 10-12. Northwest Whitfield also competed in the tournament with linebacker Clay Phillips (not pictured) being selected as a Tournament All-Star.

    June 2, 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

  • daltongirls.JPG Dalton girls finish second in Class 4A

    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

  • N. Murray cheer duo headed to DSC

    CHATSWORTH — For North Murray cheerleader Tori Stainton, earning a spot on Dalton State College’s competition squad is the fulfillment of a long process. Classmate Stacia Baker went for a tryout on a whim and found her own spot with the Roadrunners.

    May 9, 2014

  • Phillips signing at NM 3 mlh.jpg No shortage of highlights this year for Phillips

    CHATSWORTH — When Grace Phillips finished posing for photos of her signing a volleyball scholarship with Andrew College on Monday in North Murray High School’s library, a crowd of supporters gathered for the ceremony put their hands together.
    It wasn’t the first time she’d heard applause during a memorable and achievement-filled senior year.

    May 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Good day sends Dalton boys to state golf tourney

    With a spot in the Class 4A state tournament on the line, Dalton High School’s golf team put together one of its best rounds this season on a course coach Hunter Johnston said was as demanding as any the Catamounts had played this year.

    May 6, 2014