It was another solid season of softball for teams in Catoosa County.
While none of the county’s three teams made it to Columbus for the state finals, the Heritage Generals climbed back to the top of Region 6-AAAA and the LFO Lady Warriors enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent history, advancing to the region championship series in 6-AAA before falling to eventual state champion Calhoun. Both squads would go on to make it to the second round in their respective state tournaments.
And today, one player from each of those two teams is being honored as the county’s best.
LFO’s Kourtney Morrison has been named as the Pitcher of the Year for Catoosa County, while Heritage standout Madi Morris has been tabbed as the Player of the Year for the county.
Morrison, also Pitcher of the Year for Region 6-AAA, finished her final season at LFO with a 17-10 record, striking out 122 batters in 167 innings of work, and ending the year with a 2.72 ERA.
“I had a pretty good year I’d say,” Morrison smiled. “It was definitely better than last year. I think the difference for me this year was that I just felt more comfortable being out there than I did last year. I just feel like I was more comfortable with my team.
“I felt like since I was a senior, I could step up and be more of a leader. Everyone kind of looked to me and, being a pitcher, that helped me out in the circle.”
While she was a standout in the circle, Morrison also proved she could get it done in the batter’s box. She hit .381 out of the cleanup spot in the order with nine doubles, one homerun, 27 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .483.
Morrison recently signed a letter of intent to continue her playing career at nearby Bryan College, where she may pitch, catch or play a little of both for the Lady Lions.
“Being Pitcher of the Year for our region, I think they want to use me more as a pitcher, although I’m a little more comfortable as a catcher,” she explained. “I guess we’ll just have to see.”
A few miles down the road in Boynton, Morris put up offensive numbers that rank right up there with any single season ever turned in by any player to ever wear a Heritage uniform.
She hit .455 with an on-base percentage of .509 and a slugging percentage of .909. She hit nine doubles and three triples, while her 10 home runs broke the Generals’ single-season record. She drove in a total of 50 runs, scored 42 more and swiped seven bases.
“Something just clicked this year and I just started making better contact,” she explained. “It was just a great season in general. I just let loose, had fun and tried to enjoy myself. (This season) was a lot of fun and I think it was just an awesome way to end my high school career.”
Morris also made eight appearances in the circle, most coming early in the year, compiling a 4-1 record as a pitcher.
All of those numbers earned her a spot on the All-Region first team for 6-AAAA and the All-State first team for Class AAAA.
“Being a senior, being my fourth year (at Heritage) and with us having all new coaches this year, except for (assistant) Coach (Alan) Broom, I felt I just needed to step up and lead,” she added.
Morris will also be taking her talents to the next level as she recently committed to play college ball at local junior college powerhouse Chattanooga State.
“I went on a visit and I just loved the atmosphere and the coach,” she continued. “Everything was just awesome and I thought it would be a good next step for me. I think I’m really going to enjoy it.”
The 2017 Catoosa/Walker County Softball Dream Team
Dream Team First Team
Shelby Adkins (LaFayette, Jr.) - The powerful first baseman led the senior-less Lady Ramblers with a .435 average, nine doubles, 16 RBIs and 16 runs scored, assuming a role as a team leader.
Faith Alexander (Gordon Lee, Sr.) - The Kennesaw State signee battled back from off-season surgery to bat .529 with six doubles, a triple, 24 RBIs, 33 runs scored and 29 stolen bases and earning All-State first team status.
Canaan Burnett (Gordon Lee, Sr.) - Stetson bound, the senior hit .396 with six doubles, four homers and 25 RBI, while going 19-2 in the circle with 109 strikeouts in 112.2 innings with a 1.18 ERA, earning first team All-State status and Walker County Pitcher of the Year honors.
Katie Davis (Ridgeland, Jr.) - The standout catcher stepped up at the plate this fall with a .469 average, seven doubles, a triple and three homeruns, collecting 43 RBIs and a second team All-State nod.
Ciera Foster (Ridgeland, Soph.) - It was a huge season at the plate for the standout sophomore utility player, who hit an impressive .515 with seven doubles and a pair of triples, while driving in 26 runs and scoring 39 more with a .570 on-base percentage.
Kaylie Frogge (Heritage, Soph.) - An outstanding defensive player, Frogge showed that she could handle a bat as well, hitting .471 with nine doubles, a triple, one homer and 22 RBIs, while scoring 17 runs and swiping seven bases.
Rachel Gibson (Heritage, Fr.) - Second team All-State honors went to the freshman standout who hit .318 with seven doubles, four homers and drove in 13 runs, while also winning eight games as a pitcher with 93 K’s in 65.1 innings and a 2.57 ERA.
Paxton Grimes (Gordon Lee, Jr.) - The future Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle hit 11 homers to set a new GL single-season record and batted .457 with 10 doubles, a triple and 46 RBIs to pick up first team All-State honors.
Gracey Kruse (Gordon Lee, Sr.) - The Walker County Player of the Year and future UTC Moc was named the Class A Player of the Year for a second straight season after hitting .581 with 17 doubles, four triples and eight homers with 43 RBIs, 50 runs scored and 17 stolen bases, plus a slugging percentage of 1.108.
Mallory Lowe (Heritage, Jr.) - The junior heated up as the season went on and ended up batting .490 for the 6-AAAA tournament champs with six doubles, a triple, 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored.
Emma Minghini (Gordon Lee, Fr.) - Already a Penn State commit, the rookie hit an even .400 with five doubles, two triples and 19 RBIs and went 12-1 in the circle with 57 K’s and eight walks in 65.2 innings with a 1.06 ERA to earn second team All-State.
Madi Morris (Heritage, Sr.) - Chattanooga State is the next stop for the All-State first teamer who hit .455 with nine doubles, three triples, a single-season school-mark of 10 homers and 50 RBIs, while scoring 42 runs, slugging .909 and picking up four wins in the circle to earn Catoosa County Player of the Year honors.
Kourtney Morrison (LFO, Sr.) - The Catoosa County Pitcher of the Year went 17-10 with 122 strikeouts in 167 workman-like innings for the Red-and-White, finishing the year with a 2.72 ERA and Region 6-AAA Pitcher of the Year status. She hit .381 as a senior with nine doubles, one homer and 27 RBIs and will play at Bryan College next year.
Taylor Phillips (LFO, Jr.) - It was another huge season for the Lady Warriors’ shortstop who batted .426 with 14 doubles, two triples, five homers, 43 RBIs and 37 runs scored for the Region 6-AAA runners-up who went on to make the second round of the Class AAA state tournament.
Katie Proctor (Heritage, Jr.) - The power-hitting first baseman was a big-time run producer for the Generals as she batted .400 with eight doubles, a triple, six homers and 43 RBIs with 24 runs scored and five stolen bases.
Haley Sandridge (Ridgeland, Sr.) - Chipola College in Florida is the next stop for the second team All-State shortstop, who also garnered 6-AAAA honors by hitting .444 with 13 doubles, seven triples, three homers and driving in 24 runs, while scoring 42 more and slugging .808.
Reagan Thompson (Gordon Lee, Jr.) - The outfielder helped the Lady Trojans earn state championship No. 8 after hitting . 324 with two doubles, 17 RBIs and 20 runs scored to collect second team All-State honors.
Kaylee Womack (Ringgold, Sr.) - The valuable utility player and North Georgia University signee returned from a knee injury to hit .373 with nine doubles, two triples and a homer in her final season for the Blue-and-White.
Dream Team Second Team
Shaniyah Jones (LFO, Sr.)
Shelby Cole (Ringgold, Soph.)
Riley Nayadley (Ringgold, Fr.)
Megan Wilson (LaFayette, Soph.)
Nicky Yancy (LaFayette, Soph.)
Reagan Armour (Heritage, Jr.)
Ansley Bice (Heritage, Jr.)
Kiera Foster (Ridgeland, Soph.)
Laine Hicks (Ridgeland, Jr.)
Katie Carruth (Ridgeland, Sr.)
Madison Pettigrew (LaFayette, Soph.)
Whitney Boehm (Ridgeland, Sr.)
Erin Hughes (Ridgeland, Fr.)
Taelyn Bates (Heritage, Sr.)
Hailey Carroll (Ridgeland, Soph.)
Bailey Christol (Heritage, Fr.)
Dream Team Honorable Mention
Gordon Lee: Maddie Clark, Kirbie Bradley, Katherine Grace McElhaney
Heritage: Ashley Faulkenberry, Sarah Dye
LaFayette: Carlee Corbin, Madi Ashley, Sam Adkins, Ashton Stalling
LFO: Chelsey Lindsay, Karson Bradford, Haley Stahl, Morgan Ritchey
Ridgeland: Grayson James
Ringgold: Gracie Morrison, Bailey Farrow, Gillian Little, Kaylee Phillips
The Catoosa/Walker County Softball Dream Team is selected by Sports Editor Scott Herpst based on performances from the most recent season. Photo and text by Scott Herpst.