June 12, 2014

Cruse, Thomas represent Northwest well

Former Northwest Whitfield High School softball players Bayli Cruse and Colbie Thomas proved themselves among the best in the state once again.

Cruse and Thomas, who led the Lady Bruins to back-to-back Class 4A state titles during their junior and seniors seasons in 2012 and 2013, had strong efforts while taking part in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s All-Star Softball Showcase on Wednesday.

The North squad, which included Cruse and Thomas and was headed up by Northwest coach Jason Brooker, was swept by the South in the doubleheader at Alto Park in Rome. The South won 6-5 and 4-3 in the games featuring recent high school seniors.

Cruse went 3-for-6 with four RBIs in the doubleheader, and she nearly had more to boast — a long shot off her bat went foul. Thomas was 2-for-5 with two walks and a run.

“They definitely belong, and maybe a couple (other Northwest players) did, too,” Brooker said. “Only two players from each team can play.”

Cruse, a power-hitting catcher, was named The Daily Citizen’s 2013 All-Area Player of the Year and has signed with Tennessee Tech University. Thomas, an outfielder and speedy baserunner, earned her third selection to the All-Area Team last fall. Both also made the GACA’s Class 4A All-State team last season, as did junior pitcher BriLeigh Baggett and senior shortstop Ashley Conner.

In Wednesday’s doubleheader, Cruse played mostly catcher, plus some at first base, while Thomas played in the outfield. With only 13 players — including two pitchers — everyone received plenty of playing time.

“It was good just for a lot of those kids to be around each other and see how you do against the top players in (the southern half of the state),” said Brooker, who was an assistant for last year’s event. “You play against girls from other teams but you really don’t know them. The first day (of practice), there wasn’t much talking. By the time the third day came, you could hear more talking.”

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