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
  • Todd roasted 1 mlh.jpg One last 'Goodbye' for coach Todd

    Charles Todd talks to parents and coaches before his going-away party Tuesday in the Dalton High School commons area.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing Lures3cw.jpg Turner lured into love of learning fishing business

    Fishing and tall tales go hand in hand, and after nearly three decades in a business supplying local anglers, Phil Turner has heard just about all of them.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. Amateur dreams over for local golfers

    Dalton golfers Chase Miller and Will Morrow traveled to Cincinnati on Tuesday in an attempt to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, but neither earned one of the three qualifying spots at the 6,588-yard, par-70 course at Camargo Club.

    July 23, 2014

  • Report: Boggs now with Giants

    Dalton’s Mitchell Boggs has signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants, according to Contract information, along with which minor league affiliate Boggs, a pitcher, will start with, was not available in the report, and Boggs was not listed on any of the online rosters for any of the Giants’ minor league affiliates.

    July 21, 2014

  • SE wrestling practice 5 mlh.jpg Herndon leaving Raiders to coach at Calhoun; new coach named at SE Whitfield

    Michael Herndon’s successful three-year run as Southeast Whitfield High School’s wrestling coach has come to an end.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hipp makes cut at qualifying tourney

    Chatsworth golfer Colby Hipp earned the chance to play on today in a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament at Reynolds Plantation-Great Waters in Eatonton.

    July 21, 2014

  • 7on7 day 2 '14 17 mlh.jpg Devin Golden: Friday signals gridiron days’ official start

    Seven-on-seven football was a good placeholder, but it’s time to begin talking about the real thing.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • CCAC-B&W.jpg CCAC has strong showing at 14-and-under state meet

    The Carpet Capital Aquatics Club had 16 club records broken in a 12th-place finish at the 2014 Georgia 14-and-under Long Course State Championship meet Saturday at Georgia Tech’s swimming facility.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Loran Smith: Golf now in era of McIlroy after Open

    Royal & Ancient officials, under whose auspices the Open championship is conducted each year, were blessed with a sun-kissed start of the final round of the 143rd playing of this historic event.

    July 21, 2014

  • Motocross kid 6 mlh.jpg Dirt, gas and guts

    Lucas Amos is like a lot of other 6-year-olds who will be going into first grade at Tunnel Hill Elementary this school year.
    He likes to play the video game sensation Minecraft, building different structures and fending off zombies when the sun goes down. He likes to spend time with his grandparents, traveling around the Southeast with them most every weekend.
    And he likes to play in the dirt.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Devin Golden's sports updates
AP Video
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball