Player of the Year
Graduated Soddy-Daisy pitcher Kelsey Nunley will wear No. 33 for the University of Kentucky, which is different from her high school career.
When Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk first saw the right-hander pitch, she was a skinny middle-schooler at Loftis. Soon after that, he planned to have jersey No. 4 waiting for her to wear for the Lady Trojans.
“Some of his best pitchers wore No. 4. That’s what my dad explained to me,” Nunley said. “I just felt honored to be able to wear it.”
In 2012, Nunley joined former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout pitchers Ashley Frizzell and Nikki Waters, former wearers of No. 4 at Soddy-Daisy, as two-time members of Class AAA state-championship teams. Nunley ended up 36-4 with 31 shutouts, an ERA of 0.45 and 12 no-hitters this season. She allowed 95 hits and 21 walks in 246 innings, while striking out 401.
“She’s got a different mindset than most people,” Kirk said. “She knew what she wanted, and she really wanted this one. She gained some weight over the years, got a little stronger, and I felt like her senior year was her best year.”
Coach of the Year
Sixth-year Grace Academy coach Tina Walker, who was assisted by husband Alan and John Parshall, looked around at the first practice and saw six players. Knowing three others would be along after basketball season helped a little.
“We had enough to play,” Walker said, “but if anybody got hurt, we were in trouble.”
Carmen Fillers and Zee Lawrence, freshmen with a little softball experience in their backgrounds, were coaxed into joining and adding some depth to the roster. Now they and the others are part of a state-championship team — the first in any sport at the Class A school.
And the Lady Golden Eagles did it the hard way, after losing their first game in the state tournament. After a “heart-to-heart” team meeting right afterward, they won out.
“My seniors stepped up,” Walker said of Bethany Cowart, Lexie Dean, Kaitlyn Eldridge and Reagan Schrader. “We told them, ‘We’re going to go as far as you carry us.’”
She had a 27-7 record and a 1.35 ERA with 32 walks allowed and 190 strikeouts in 182 innings.
She pledged to Ole Miss after going 29-6 with four no-hitters, a 0.67 ERA and 230 Ks in 201 innings.
She batted .530 with four homers, nine triples, 12 doubles, 11 stolen bases, 43 RBIs and 40 runs.
She committed to Shorter after batting .465 with nine homers, 16 doubles, 33 runs and 63 RBIs.
The Chattanooga State signee hit .500 with 11 homers, four triples, 20 doubles and 70 RBIs.
The UT commitment hit .496 with 19 extra-base hits, 40 steals, 56 runs scored and 26 RBIs.
She batted .384 with a season school-record 11 homers, 16 other extra-base hits and 63 RBIs.
She was 24-0 with a 0.49 ERA for the repeat state champs and was 71-1 for her prep career.
She batted .443 with 11 home runs among her 25 extra-base hits, and she drove in 60 runs.
She had a .480 average, nine homers, 15 doubles, 46 RBIs and 40 runs for a state-tournament team.
The state champs’ future UTC player hit .526 with 47 runs, 37 RBIs, seven doubles and eight triples.
The Southern Illinois commitment hit .466 with 22 extra-base hits, 55 runs, 41 RBIs and 30 steals.
Bethany Cowart Grace Academy Senior Outfielder
Lexie Dean Grace Academy Senior Infielder
Savannah Goldsmith Heritage Junior Utility
Sidney Hooper Walker Valley Junior Pitcher
Kendall Johnson Gordon Lee Senior Infielder
Mykeah Johnson NW Whitfield Junior Infielder
Chandler McKinney Dalton Senior Outfielder
Cassi Pickett Baylor Sophomore Catcher
Lydia Ritchie Bledsoe County Junior Pitcher
Hayley Robinson Ringgold Senior Infielder
Shelby Willard Central Senior Pitcher
Noelle Winkles Baylor Sophomore Outfielder
Brooke Baxter Marion County Junior Outifielder
Madison Boyd GPS Senior Outfielder
Ashton Condra Sequatchie County Senior Pitcher
Abby Daniels Ooltewah Senior Catcher
Kaitlyn Eldridge Grace Academy Senior Infielder
Madison Gossett Dade County Sophomore Pitcher
Cassidy Hackney Soddy-Daisy Junior Infielder
Maryann Morgan Lakeview-F.O. Junior Infielder
Hannah Powell Central Junior Utilty
Haley Reynolds Soddy-Daisy Sophomore Infielder
Leslie Still Walker Valley Senior Outfielder
Allison Vaughn Heritage Junior Pitcher