February 27, 2014

Extra innings: North Murray softball catcher Stafford signs with ABAC

North Murray High School senior Samantha Stafford already knew she wanted to study at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton.

Getting to play softball there is a bonus.

Stafford, who started behind the plate for the Lady Mountaineers, signed with the Fillies on Wednesday at North Murray. She will receive a partial athletic scholarship and becomes the first Lady Mountaineers softball player to receive such a grant, North Murray coach Steve Granger said.

 “Hopefully, she is the first of many,” said Granger, who took over the softball program last fall after previously serving as the school’s head baseball coach and a softball assistant. “I couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Stafford, who plans to major in agribusiness and economics, said she never really expected to play softball in college. ABAC is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association and the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA).

“ABAC was originally my No. 1 pick for college, and if I got to play ball that would be a bonus,” Stafford said. “I love the game, and I was just happy when (ABAC coach Donna Campbell) told me that I was on the team. It is all really just a bonus for me.

“It feels amazing and crazy all at the same time.”

Stafford finished the 2013 season with a .277 batting average with just 18 strikeouts in 128 plate appearances. She had an on-base percentage of .365 with 20 runs scored and 18 RBIs.

Stafford earned honorable mention on The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Softball Team last fall while helping the Lady Mountaineers advance to the state playoffs for the third consecutive season.

It was Granger’s first season as head coach, but he has been helping coach Stafford in some fashion since she was in middle school. He said having Stafford behind the plate in his first year leading the Lady Mountaineers was a significant help.

“To come in and know that position was filled and knowing the work ethic she has, it made things a lot smoother,” Granger said. “She is a hard worker and very coachable, and the other girls see that and respond to it.

“She was really like having another coach on the field. Anytime our pitcher seemed to get in trouble, Sam would beat me to the punch and get out there to calm her down. Whoever takes her spot, it will be some pretty big shoes to fill.”

Stafford knows she will be far from home — it is easily a four-hour drive to Tifton south on I-75 — but she said she will also have familiar faces in south Georgia.

“Two of my closest friends have gotten accepted there and we will all go together,” she said. “I also know a few people who have graduated from North Murray who are already down there.”

The Fillies went 26-21 and finished fifth in the GCAA state tournament last year and returned just three members of that team, with 13 freshmen on the roster this season. They’re 6-3 entering Friday’s home doubleheader against South Georgia College.

Text Only
  • NW vs Cass baseball 6  mlh.jpg Thrown a curveball

    About four weeks ago, Seth Pierce and his family moved closer to Ringgold High School — a move which has big ramifications on two sports fronts. Not only will his departure affect the Northwest Whitfield High School baseball program, the move will also put him back on the football field.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW Football3.jpg Prep football: NW Whitfield staying hungry for more success

    Northwest Whitfield High School entered the 2013 season motivated to reach the state playoffs — something the Bruins accomplished.
    This year’s team possesses the hunger to mirror last season’s successes — and possibly more.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chris Whitfield: Ending ride (kind of) as sports writer

    T wo weeks ago, I was told by managing editor Jamie Jones that I would no longer be a full-time sports writer with The Daily Citizen. It was a mutual decision.

    July 28, 2014

  • Local trio leads NW section to 3rd place

    Tori Owens, of Chatsworth finished 11-over-par Monday in the Junior Sectional Challenge Match at The Landings Club-Marshwood and Magnolia in Savannah for third place in the girls 12-13-year-old 9-hole division. She joined Landon Painter and Hardin Chambless on the Northwest team.

    July 28, 2014

  • SE fball conditioning 1 mlh.jpg Prep football: Raiders enter preseason hoping for breakthrough

    Entering his third year as Southeast Whitfield High School’s football coach, Sean Gray believes the last obstacle is belief.
    He believes this group of Raiders has that quality.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Devin Golden: Other sports start practice this week

    Football isn’t the only high school sport during the fall — and the others are joining in this week.

    July 28, 2014

  • Three locals on NW team in state golf event

    Three local golfers — Hardin Chambless, Tori Owens and Landon Painter — played Sunday in round one of the Junior Sectional Challenge Match.

    July 28, 2014

  • DHS fball condition#1C0E6F8.jpg Prep football: Dalton enters camp well ahead of learning curve

    The joke came quick to the lips of Dalton High School football coach Matt Land when asked how the opening day of conditioning for the Catamounts went on Friday.
    “We can quit and go home,” Land said. “They have it all figured out.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hall of Fame Baseball_Chan.jpg Making a trip into town

    Frank Thomas was always driven to excel, and that sure served him well.
    “I was never that blue-chip prospect,” he said. “I had to outwork my opponents.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hall of Fame Baseball_Chan2.jpg Chris Whitfield: Memories stay with us, and go with them

    I still remember the pandemonium that broke out in the dorm at Middle Georgia College in tiny Cochran, Ga., the night of “The Slide” in the 1992 National League Championship Series. It was a fire drill, wall street-buying frenzy and a Roman toga party all in one.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo