June 18, 2014

In the lineup again

State champs will play together once more

By Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— 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.

Northwest’s Ashley Conner, Hannah Godfrey, Mallory Souther, Colbie Thomas and Macy Weeks are on the 21-player roster representing Georgia in today’s 6 p.m. doubleheader at Chattanooga’s Frost Stadium.

The 2014 edition of the annual Classic series, which pits recent seniors from northwest Georgia against those from southeast Tennessee in a variety of sports, concludes with today’s softball games as well as a 6 p.m. baseball game at the McCallie School in Chattanooga.

The five former Lady Bruins join North Murray’s Kara Deal and Southeast Whitfield’s Chaya Drury and Kara Headrick on the Georgia squad.

“It’s neat because we get to play together again,” said Weeks, who played alongside Souther in the girls basketball Classic earlier this month. “We’re all going off to college and will still play, but after the state championship, you think you’ll never get to play together again. So that’s really neat that we all got invited and most get to play together again.”

Bayli Cruse, The Daily Citizen’s 2013 All-Area Softball Player of the Year and the sixth Lady Bruins senior, was invited to play but declined because she’s on vacation. Coahulla Creek’s Erin Harden declined to play for the same reason.

Cruse and Thomas played together in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s All-Star Softball Showcase last week in Rome, but this will be the first contest with this many Lady Bruins playing together since last November’s state tournament. To win the Class 4A title, Northwest beat Region 7-4A rival Heritage-Catoosa and coach Steve Chattin, who will be Georgia’s coach for the Classic.

In four years of playing for Northwest, last year’s senior class won two Region 7-4A titles and were among the final eight teams in the Class 4A state tournament three times.

“I feel like I’m not sad about (this being the last chance to play together),” Godfrey said. “I got sad on senior night. ... I’m excited I get the chance to play with them again. I’m excited because I get to wear my Northwest uniform again. I think that’s cool.”

Godfrey and Souther will continue as teammates because both signed scholarships with Tennessee’s Cleveland State Community College. Souther is glad to have a chance to reunite with other teammates today.

“I think it’s just nice to play one more time,” Souther said. “The sad part is kind of gone from that. I’m excited. Not many get the chance to play in this game.”

The softball Classic, which started in 1998, is the oldest of the series’ competitions. Tennessee owns a 25-7 lead.

The baseball game also has local representation. Christian Heritage’s Nich Bartley and Jake Stokes join Dalton’s Grant Sane and Northwest’s Diego Peralta in suiting up for the Peach State. Tennessee leads 11-1 in the baseball series, and has won the past four games, including last year’s 5-4 victory at Ridgeland.

In this year’s Classic matchups, Georgia swept boys and girls soccer, while Tennessee won the football game and swept boys and girls basketball.