Tag Archives: high school softball

State champs dominate all-state softball squads

SM-Tn Sports

Southern Middle Tennessee’s state championship softball programs are well represented on the Tennessee Sports Writers Association all-state teams that were announced this week.

Columbia Academy, the 2021 Division II-A state titlist following a 2019 championship in Class A, leads the way with four DII-A all-state selections. Summertown and Forrest, which claimed crowns in Class A and Class AA respectively during Spring Fling a couple of months ago, each have a trio of honorees.

For the Lady Bulldogs, juniors Myleah Hardy, Karli Quillin and Averi Slaughter were joined by Carson-Newman signee Journey Mitchell. Hardy hit .509 with 10 doubles, 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and 46 runs scored, with Quillin batting .449 and scoring 51 runs while stealing 22 bases on 23 attempts. Slaughter went 24-0 in the circle with an 0.83 earned run average and 220 strikeouts in 126 innings, while Mitchell posted a 15-2 mark and a 1.14 ERA, striking out 144 in 80 innings.

Behind that quartet, CA finished 41-2 and ended the season on a 27-game winning streak.

Summertown’s Kaley Campbell, Hailey Jones and Claire Woods were named all-state along with Loretto’s Briley Dover, Huntland’s Ashtyn Danley and Eagleville eighth-graders Brinli Bain and Addisyn Linton.

Campbell, an Austin Peay golf signee, hit .358 with four home runs and 32 RBIs while compiling a 13-1 record with an 0.66 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 74 innings for the Lady Eagles. Jones and Woods are both set to play softball collegiately – Jones at North Alabama, Woods at Middle Tennessee State. Jones batted .402 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs, while Woods went 21-1 with an 0.67 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 126 innings. At the plate, Woods hit .410 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.

Summertown went 34-2-1 en route to a second Class A state title in four years, to go with its 2018 championship and its runner-up finish in 2019.

Dover hit .542 with eight homers and 37 RBIs to lead the Lady Mustangs to the program’s first state tourney appearance.

In Class AA, Forrest won its second consecutive state tourney and finished 31-4-1 behind its senior threesome of Kentucky signee Jenna Blanton, MTSU recruit Laura Mealer and Walters State signee Ashley Milligan. Blanton batted .600, stole 39 bases and scored 61 runs for the Lady Rockets, while Mealer hit .609 with eight homers and 53 RBIs. Milligan went 23-2 in the circle, posting a 1.03 ERA and striking out 251 in 156 innings.

A third MTSU signee, Keri Munn, earned Class AAA all-state honors for Coffee County.

Earlier this week, the TSWA all-state teams in track and field, tennis, baseball and boys soccer were announced.

The all-state softball teams, in their entirety, follow:

Class AAA

C — Makenzie Henderson, Anderson Co., Jr.; INF — Cayden Baker, Powell, Sr.; Sierra Brown, Walker Valley, Jr.; Hayden Dye, Powell, Sr.; Cameron Young, Farragut, Sr.; OF — Reagan Duran, Siegel, Jr.; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton, Sr.; Avery Strickland, Farragut, Jr.; UTIL — Lauren Brakovec, Farragut, Jr.; P — Avery Flatford, Farragut, Jr.; Keri Munn, Coffee Co., Sr.; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co., Sr.

Class AA

C — Olivia Underwood, Sequoyah, Sr.; INF — Jenna Blanton, Forrest, Sr.; Italia Kyle, Alcoa, Jr.; Laura Mealer, Forrest, Sr.; Abby Shoulders, Macon Co., Sr.; OF — Addy Edgmon, Sequatchie Co., Jr.; Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co., Sr.; Lexie Wright, Red Bank, Sr.; UTIL — Mykenzi Duke, Lexington, So.; P — Cadey McDaniel, Lexington, Jr.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest, Sr.; Bailee Phillips, Red Bank, Sr.

Class A

C — Brinli Bain, Eagleville, 8th; INF — Kaley Campbell, Summertown, Sr.; Briley Dover, Loretto, So.; Hailey Jones, Summertown, Sr.; Shelby Sullivan, Sale Creek, Sr.; OF — Ashtyn Danley, Huntland, So.; Zoey Neal, Gibson Co., Sr.; Sophie Theobald, Union City, Jr.; UTIL — Hannah Skiles, Sale Creek, Sr.; P — Campbell Gaby, North Greene, So.; Addisyn Linton, Eagleville, 8th; Claire Woods, Summertown, Sr.

Division II-A

C — Presley Williamson, Boyd Buchanan, Sr.; INF — Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture, Sr.; Kayla Clement, Tipton-Rosemark, Jr.; Myleah Hardy, Columbia Acad., Jr.; Brooke Harrison, Tipton-Rosemark, Fr.; OF — Ella Brooks, Knoxville Grace, Jr.; Hailey Brooks, Knoxville Grace, Fr.; Karli Quillin, Columbia Acad., Jr.; UTIL — McCade Cooper, Silverdale Baptist, Jr.; P — Journey Mitchell, Columbia Acad., Sr.; Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark, Sr.; Averi Slaughter, Columbia Acad., Jr.

Division II-AA

C — Ansley Blevins, Chatt. Girls Prep, Jr.; INF– Cadashia Collins, Baylor, Jr.; Chapel Cunningham, Chatt. Girls Prep, Sr.; Lauren Kay, Chattanooga Chr., Sr.; Madison Vandergriff, Chattanooga Christian, Sr.; OF — Raven Jones, Baylor, Jr.; Neely Taylor, St. Benedict, Jr.; Addi Yates, Baylor, Fr.: UTIL — Acelynn Sellers, Baylor, Sr.; P — Syd Berzon, Baylor, Jr.; Emily Day, Chattanooga Chr., Sr.; Josie Gex, St. Benedict, Sr.

Chicks dig the long ball: Lady Eagle pair tops list in all-star home run derby

By Maurice Patton

MURFREESBORO — Hailey Jones hit 20 home runs Thursday — 19 to win the Home Run Derby portion of the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association’s all-star event at Riverdale’s Lady Warrior Field, and one to prevent the Middle Tennessee stars from getting swept on the day.

Following her Summertown teammate Claire Woods, who hit 17 homers to take the lead in the slugging exhibition, Jones caught fire from the left side of the plate.

“I knew Hailey was going to beat me,” said Woods, the TSCA’s selection as Class A Miss Softball after a senior season during which she hit seven roundtrippers and batted .410 while going 21-1 with 197 strikeouts in the circle. “I just had a feeling. She kills it. She hits ‘em off me in practice, too.”

While Woods, a Middle Tennessee State signee, was a home run derby veteran — “I’ve never won one,” she said — Jones was a reluctant participant Thursday.

“I’ve never been in one before (Thursday),” the North Alabama recruit said. “I didn’t really want to do it at first, but my mom (Anisha) wanted me to do it. I did it because she wanted me to.”

As Jones said, she “started out kinda slow, but picked it up,” getting into a groove with the help of Lady Eagles coach Greg Burleson, who pitched to both.

Summertown coach Greg Burleson set up his two graduating seniors, Hailey Jones and Claire Woods, to take the top two spots in Thursday’s Home Run Derby as part of the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association’s all-star event at Riverdale. (Photo by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports)

“It helps that Coach Burleson was the one throwing to us,” Woods said. “That’s probably our last time he’ll be able to throw to us. It’s kinda bittersweet.”

Hitting out of the leadoff position primarily for the Class A state champion Lady Eagles, Jones led Summertown with 12 homers while batting .402 on the year.

“I consider myself more an ‘on-base’ hitter – line drives,” Jones said. “I was kinda nervous after (Woods) went up there. I thought, I’ll be happy if I just hit five over.

“When you hit one, it’s just like a repetitive thing. Just keep the same motion.”

Jones and Woods were the lone derby participants to hit more than 10 homers during the competition.

Woods worked the final three innings in the circle, with Jones getting the start at first base as the Middle Tennessee all-stars fell to the East Tennessee contingent 3-1 in the opening contest. The lone run for the Midstate stars came on a first-inning solo home run by Forrest’s Laura Mealer, also an MTSU signee.

Following a second East Tennessee win over the West stars by an 8-2 margin, Woods drew the pitching assignment with Jones in center field for the finale. Woods worked two scoreless innings, along with a triple and a single and two runs scored.

Jones had three hits, including a second-inning double and her seventh-inning solo shot that put the Midstate stars ahead 6-5 after the West team rallied from a five-run deficit.

Once again, though, the West rebounded and tied the game with a run in its final at-bat. Playing with a 1:45 time limit, the 6-6 deadlock at the end of regulation stood as the final score.

Following the game, Jones, Mealer and Forrest’s Ashley Milligan were announced as members of the Tennessee all-star team that will take on the Kentucky all-stars on June 30 at Warren South High School in Bowling Green.

The full list of Tennessee all-stars is as follows:

Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture; Delayna Bryant, Powell; Jessica Dennis, Sequatchie Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Jade Howard, Brighton; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Laura Mealer, Forrest; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mauri Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Becca Williams, Heritage; Cameron Young, Farragut.

Coaching carousel: Mt. Pleasant fills girls hoops spot, four openings still across Maury County

By Maurice Patton and Chris Yow

Mt. Pleasant administration confirmed Tuesday that Kansas native Hayden Pentecost will take over the Lady Tigers basketball program for the upcoming campaign, following the April dismissal of Amy Odom after two seasons.

Pentecost spent the previous two years as an assistant under veteran Summit girls basketball coach John Wild — a factor that weighed heavily into his hiring.

“We’re excited to have him,” Mt. Pleasant principal Ryan Jackson said. “He’s from the John Wild camp; he speaks highly of him.

“He’s fired up, excited. This is the perfect opportunity for him, and he’s diving in head-first. He’s excited about the film he’s seen, the team he has, and we’re excited to have him with us.”

The 24-year-old Pentecost — his birthday is July 27 — moved to Tennessee with his then-fiancee in 2018 after graduating from Wichita State. The Lady Spartans marked his first coaching assignment.

As did Jackson, Pentecost recognized the career jumpstart that working with Wild provides.

“Working with someone that’s done it for 30-plus years, you learn a lot,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me was that he knew from Day One that I had aspirations to be a head coach. He showed me the ropes of everything outside the Xs and Os — what happens outside the court. That’s something I’m very grateful for.

“He’s been very helpful from the get-go. I’m sure he’ll still be available if I need help.”

With the boys and girls basketball programs both moving to Class AA for the upcoming classification period, Pentecost and his young charges will be heavily tested. Mt. Pleasant will be in District 10-AA along with Giles County, Lewis County, Loretto and Summertown — the latter two of which played for the Class A state title in March.

Loretto, making its third consecutive state tourney appearance, won the crown over a Lady Eagle team that was in the tournament for the third time in five years.

Mt. Pleasant won six games over the past two seasons under Odom.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “You’ve got to go out and give it your best shot. We’ll focus on us, work our butts off and compete, and hopefully good things will come from that — playing with confidence, trusting in your ability, staying within yourself, believing in what we’ve got in our locker room and just competing. That’s the goal.

“I haven’t met the girls yet. I’m looking forward to that. There’s a good young group that I understand is eager to get to work and get pushed and they want to have success. That’s something I’m excited about.”

“That’s why I think it was imperative to find somebody fearless (and) willing to take on that challenge,” Jackson said. “This is a solid group; they’re committed, fired up, ready to compete.

“We know it’s going to be tough; that’s nothing new. But the mindset is the same. We’re going to push forward, make no excuses and be as competitive as we can.”

Current Vacancies

Columbia Central girls basketball
After Joshua Bugg was relieved of his duties at the helm of the program, the school was forced to put its search on hold for a replacement following an administration shake-up. The Lady Lions have been without a coach since March 5. New principal Kevin Eady said the school reopened the posting and are selecting candidates for interviews beginning June 21 — a week before the TSSAA-mandated dead period (June 28-July 11).

Culleoka girls basketball
Derrick Adkison stepped down from his position after nine seasons at Culleoka on March 14. The Warriors’ former coach cited his desire to watch his son, who plays basketball for Santa Fe, as the biggest reason for the move. Culleoka athletics director Doug Sharp said interviews for the vacancy have been completed and an offer has been extended, with hopes of finalization before the dead period.

Columbia Central softball
Just before the 2021 season, coach Shelby Burchell Tietgens resigned abruptly in January, citing ‘philosophical differences’; assistant Hannah Thomason Cole was appointed to the position on an interim basis. Eady said the school reopened the posting and are selecting candidates for interviews beginning June 21.

Mt. Pleasant boys basketball
Chris Carney, who spent two seasons at the helm of Mt. Pleasant’s boys basketball team, was relieved of his duties on April 1. Carney has since accepted the girls basketball coaching job at his alma mater Camden. Mt. Pleasant has yet to narrow down its list of candidates to extend an offer, but principal Ryan Jackson said the interview process is ongoing.

Filled this year

Mt. Pleasant football — Kit Hartsfield
Hartsfield, who went 22-13 with three Class 6A state playoff appearances over the past three seasons at Blackman, succeeds Bronson Bradley at the Tigers’ helm. The younger brother of longtime Midstate girls basketball coach Wendi Hartsfield Scott (Lawrence County, Riverdale, Blackman), Kit began his coaching career immediately out of college, taking the helm at Oakland Middle School and spending three years as defensive backs coach under Thomas McDaniel at Oakland High School.

Summertown football — Dakota Crews
Crews, 30, joined former Summertown coach Leslie Mote’s staff after spending the previous two seasons as an assistant at Oakland. The only Mr. Football in the history of the Lewis County program, Crews worked under Bobby Sharp for six seasons at his alma mater after completing his collegiate playing career at Maryville College.

Zion Christian football — Jeff Jordan 
Following the March resignation of Brad Lowery, Zion Christian hired Jordan, a first-year coach, to take over the program. The 36-year-old Jordan is an area native, graduating in 2003 from Page before attending Purdue University. Embarking on his coaching career with two years at the middle school level at Franklin Road Academy, he spent a year at his high school alma mater before moving on to Ravenwood for three seasons. Last year, he served as defensive backs coach at Ensworth.

Lawrence County boys basketball — Joseph Wilson
Lawrence County hired Wilson, who spent the last 16 seasons as girls basketball coach at Winfield (Ala.), to succeed Shaen Clark. Wilson holds an overall record of 556-227 in Alabama with two final four appearances, three elite eight appearances and 13 regional championships — the equivalent to sectionals in Tennessee. He has 23 playoff appearances.

Independence boys basketball — Mark Wilkins
Jeff Parker initially served in an interim role atop the Eagles’ program after Doug Keil’s abrupt departure in February, before Independence hired Mark Wilkins, who played for his father, Mitch, at Henry County before graduating from Lipscomb University in 2012. Wilkins spent three seasons as an assistant at Beech — under current Williamson County Schools athletics director Darren Joines — prior to taking the position at South Gibson. In six seasons at the Medina, Tenn., school, he posted a 112-68 record, leading the Hornets to District 13-AA championships each of the last two years.

Independence girls basketball — Tony Hill
Former Centennial coach Tony Hill was hired in April to take over the program, which has been marred by inconsistency in the head coaching seat in recent years. Hill was most recently a member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Riverdale, and led Centennial to a four-year record of 55-48 from 2013-17, with the Lady Cougars posting their first winning record (18-8) in 2015-16 followed by a 19-win performance a year later. Two months later, Hill resigned to take over the girls program at Portland. He’s since spent a season at Huntland and the last two at Riverdale. Hill succeeds Mary Beth White, the Independence athletics director, who stepped in following Bryan Glasner’s suspension and subsequent resignation.

Summertown girls basketball — Jeremy Jean
Jeremy Jean was hired to succeed Catie Embrey at Summertown in May following Embrey’s resignation. After serving as an assistant at Lincoln County and at Franklin County — serving under current Summit coach John Wild in the latter stop — as well as at Motlow State, Jean went 254-125 with the Lady Rockets with four regular-season district championships, two district tourney titles, three region tournament crowns and one state quarterfinal appearance. Jean’s wife, Beth, played at Summertown and made successive state tourney visits in 2004, ’05 and ’06.

City Council honors CA’s state championship athletes

SM-Tn Sports

Columbia Academy’s Division II-A championship softball team was recently recognized by the City Council, as Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder declared June 10 as “Columbia Academy Lady’s Softball Team Day”.

The Council also recognized CA track standout Connor Henson for his three Division II-A championships at the recent state meet, along with Collins Malone, who placed second in the 300-meter hurdles.

The Lady Bulldogs defeated Tipton-Rosemark 2-1 in last month’s state finals in Murfreesboro, winning their second state title in as many tournaments, following their 2019 Class A championship.

Led by Carson-Newman signee Journey Mitchell and junior all-state selections Myleah Hardy and Averi Slaughter, CA posted a 41-2 record and finished the year on a 27-game winning streak.

Included in the proclamation read by Molder was: “The Lady Bulldogs and coaches have shown professionalism, commitment, sportsmanship, determination and dedication that has brought positive recognition not only to themselves, but to the entire student body of Columbia Academy, the City of Columbia and Maury County.”

Columbia Academy’s Connor Henson (center) was honored by Mayor Chaz Molder, Vice Mayor Christa Martin and the City Council during its June 10 meeting after winning three Division II-A track titles during the recent state meet. (Courtesy photo)

Henson, who won the Division II-A cross country championship last fall, added victories in the 800 (1:55.39), 1600 (4:24.15) and 3200 (9:53.96) meters at the state meet in Rockvale. He became the third boys runner since 2005 to sweep the three longest races at the state finals.

“Henson, Malone and their teammates have shown commitment, sportsmanship, determination and dedication that has brought positive recognition not only to themselves, but to the entire student body of Columbia Academy, the City of Columbia and Maury County,” the proclamation read.

Athletes, coaches and support staff from Columbia Academy were recognized as well as school president James Thomas and athletics director Pernell Knox.

Woods earns Miss Softball kudos as all-star, all-state teams named

SM-Tn Sports

Summertown’s Claire Woods has been named Middle Tennessee Class A Miss Softball by the Tennessee Softballl Coaches Association, and she and teammate Hailey Jones will represent the Lady Eagles in the TSCA All-Star Game scheduled for June 17 at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro.

The duo led Summertown to a 3-0 victory over Eagleville in the state tournament finals on May 28, marking the program’s second Class A championship in four years along with a runner-up finish.

Woods, a Middle Tennessee State signee, went 21-1 with 16 shutouts, striking out 197 in 126 innings and compiling an earned run average of 0.67 in the circle. She also batted .410 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

Jones, who has signed with North Alabama, hit .402 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs.

Joining them on the Midstate all-star squad are Jenna Blanton and Ashley Milligan from the Class AA state titlist Forrest Lady Rockets, and Keri Munn and Justus Turner from the Class AAA runner-up Coffee County Lady Raiders.

Munn was named Class AAA Miss Softball for Middle Tennessee by the coaches association.

Columbia Academy juniors Myleah Hardy and Averi Slaughter each received all-state accolades from the association, as did Blanton, Milligan and Laura Mealer from Forrest

The June 17 festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with a contest between the East and Middle stars, followed by a 12 noon home run derby. At 12:30 p.m., the East and West stars will face off, with all-state selections and Miss Softball honorees to be presented at 2:30 p.m. The Middle and West stars will play at 3 p.m. Following the final game, the Tennessee roster for the June 30 Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game in Bowling Green will be announced.

All-star, Miss Softball and all-state selections are:

East All-Stars: Shelby Blake, Gibbs; Delayna Bryant, Powell; Hannah Cooper, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mari Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Courtney Sneed, Soddy Daisy; Brecca Williams, Heritage; Cameron Young, Farragut. Coaches — Jeff Sherman, Heritage; McKenzie Sherman, Heritage; Ashley Day, Heritage; Hillary Love, Jefferson Co.

East Miss Softball: Class A – Kara VonAchen, Coalfield; Class AA – Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Class AAA – Avery Flatford, Farragut.

East all-state: Shelby Blake, Gibbs; Sierra Brown, Walker Valley; Breanna Bumgardner, Gibbs; Hannah Cooper, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Makayla Cooper, Union Co.; Brooklyn Copley, Grainger; Caitlin Dixon, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Hayden Dye, Powell; Addy Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Lainey Fitzgerald, Meigs Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Katie Fultz, Coalfield; Gracie Gray, Hardin Valley; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Reese Knox, East Hamilton; Hailey Leslie, Walker Valley; Taylor Lloyd, Soddy Daisy; Kennedy Majors, Meigs Co; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mari Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Hannah Skiles, Sale Creek; Olivia Smith, Heritage; Courtney Sneed, Soddy Daisy; Ally Starnes, Sweetwater; Shelby Sullivan, Sale Creek; Lexie Sykes, Grainger; Allyssa Williams, Lakeway Chr.; Cameron Young, Farragut.

Middle All-Stars: Jenna Blanton, Forrest; Krychet Grigsby, Station Camp; Lauren Hosford, Riverdale; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Jordan Key, Livingston Acad.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Keri Munn, Coffee Co.; Killian Roberts, Blackman; Abby Shoulders, Macon Co.; Justus Turner, Coffee Co.; Sydney Weatherford, Clarksville; Ashton Wheeler, Riverdale; Claire Woods, Summertown; Gracelyn Woollen, Clarksville. Coaches — John Conditt, Macon Co.; John Bush, Gordonsville; Christi Bingham, Riverdale.

Middle Miss Softball: Class A – Claire Woods, Summertown; Class AA – Abby Shoulders, Macon Co.; Class AAA – Keri Munn, Coffee Co.; Division II – Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture.

Middle all-state: Brianna Asmondy, Springfield; Macauley Bailey, Station Camp; Paige Bagwell, Clarksville Chr.; Shelby Baker, Waverly; Kailey Binkley, Goodpasture; Jenna Blanton, Forrest; Faith Brown, Goodpasture; Cadence Carter, Macon Co.; Macey Ciramella, Middle Tennessee Chr.; Madison Croxford, Station Camp; Kaitlyn Davis, Coffee Co.; Kristen Eversole, Trousdale Co.; Kiya Ferrell, Coffee Co.; Myleah Hardy, Columbia Acad.; Jacey Hatfield, DeKalb Co.; Reagan Hurst, Upperman; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Jordan Key, Livingston Acad.; Sarah Kinderdine, Blackman;  Aliyah Kingery, Clay Co.; Maddie Lee, Trousdale Co.; Esther McFarlin, Riverdale; Macy Meador, Macon Co.; Laura Mealer, Forrest; Elizabeth Miller, Friendship Chr.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Sarah Nicholson, Springfield; Kyleigh Pitzer, Wilson Central; Kailey Plumlee, Gordonsville; Mel Pride, Upperman; Killian Roberts, Blackman; Averi Slaughter, Columbia Acad.; Alaina Smith, Lebanon; Breanna Snyder, Northwest; Morgan Walker, DeKalb Co.; Ester White, Waverly; Ester White, Waverly; Avery Woodard, Smith Co.; Gracelyn Woollen, Clarksville.

West All-Stars: Abby Berry, Camden; Nevaeh Davis, Bruceton; Reagan Hamm, Dyersburg; Alix Hampton, Camden; Jade Howard, Brighton; Kalynn Howard, Covington; Ashlyn Gray, Ripley; Laura Kirkpatrick, Trinity Chr.; Lilly Kramer, Trinity Chr.; Ali Naumann, Tipton-Rosemark; Zoey Neal, Gibson Co.; Halle Grace Patton, Hardin Co.; Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark; Lauren Vickery, Covington. Coaches — Adam Blackburn, Camden; Chris Peebles, Camden; Justus Cousar, Covington.

West Miss Softball: Class A – Zoey Neal, Gibson Co.; Class AA – Kalynn Howard, Covington; Class AAA – Halle Grace Patton, Hardin Co.; Division II – Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark.

West all-state: Abby Berry, Camden; Timily David, Brighton; Nevaeh Davis, Bruceton; Molli Deere, Riverside; Kennadie Gibson, Huntingdon; Anna Gover, Covington; Ashley Gray, Ripley; Raegan Hamm, Dyersburg; Alix Hampton, Camden; Brooke Harrison, Trinity Chr.; Brie Howard, Brighton; Laura Kirkpatrick, Trinity Chr.; Maria Murdaugh, Trinity Chr.; Ava Ozment, Dyer Co.; Josie Sanders, Huntingdon; Chloe Shelton, McNairy Central; Reagon Thompson, Dyer Co.; Pearson Vaugh, Ripley; Lauren Vickery, Covington.

Athletic concerns await new Columbia Central head man

By Maurice Patton

Officially set to assume duties as principal at Columbia Central on July 1, Kevin Eady has plenty to address in the three-plus weeks prior.

As he transitions to the helm of Maury County’s “flagship school” after three years at Hickman County, high on Eady’s list of priorities are a pair of athletic department openings – the girls basketball coaching position, vacant since Joshua Bugg’s March 5 dismissal after four seasons, and the softball coaching spot, which was filled on an interim basis by Hannah Cole after Shelby Burchell Tietgens’ mid-January resignation ended a three-game tenure.

“I still have duties in Hickman County, but I’m hoping to get time to come in and maybe even begin interviewing,” said Eady, who resides in Columbia and previously held administrative roles at Whitthorne Middle, McDowell Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Mt. Pleasant Middle and E.A. Cox Middle – the last four as principal.

“I’d love to get something done before the ‘dead period’, but I can’t guarantee that.”

The 49-year-old Eady, who played football, basketball and baseball at Moore County, said he’ll lean on Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter as he works through the process to fill both positions.

“I think he has the information to get me so I can start looking at applications and resumes and start doing some reference checks,” Eady said. “I need to reach out and see who’s still interested. With my administration, my contacts across the state, I want to use those and try to bring in the best coach I possibly can, as quickly as I can.

“I know Carden (Virgo, assistant girls basketball coach) is doing a good job with them, getting them some work this summer, but I want to finalize that as soon as possible and get that taken care of.”

MCPS director Michael Hickman anticipates Eady reacting to the urgency of the coaching situations.

“We have to get those filled immediately, even though it may not be, per se, a fall sport,” Hickman said. “ … some of them will do summer practices. Some of them are allowed to do their tryouts and so forth in the summer. We need to get those people in position quickly.

“I want them quickly, but I do want to make sure we get the right person for those student-athletes.”

Eady’s athletic background was a factor, Hickman said, in his appointment as the successor to Roger White — a Central graduate who spent nine years in the role before he was suspended in late March and later reassigned to McDowell, which closed at the end of the school year.

“We made a list of what we were specifically looking for: We needed a culture builder, someone that knew about sports, someone that had high school experience, someone that was a strong instructional leader,” Hickman said. “It sounds almost cliché-ish, all these boxes I’m talking about checking off.

“At the end of the process, it was pretty unanimous that Kevin Eady was our guy. He’s really known as a culture builder, and that’s exactly what Central needs right now – someone to go in and help build the culture. It was a shocking ending for them at the end of the year, losing a principal. They needed someone that wasn’t going to be so much an iron fist, going in there (like) ‘my way or the highway’, (but) someone that was going to go in and build those relationships, keep the school moving forward in academics, athletics and all the other club areas.”

While the athletic issues provide immediate high-profile challenges, Eady is excited to take them on along with everything else that comes with his new role.

“What’s good, you want to make better. What’s struggling, you want to start making plans to address those areas and look for improvement,” he said. “There are a lot of students I know, a lot of teachers I know, but there’s going to be a lot I do not know. I want to build some relationships and let them know who I am, and I’m here for all of them.

“With a school like Columbia Central, you’re going to get a lot of qualified applicants, not just from Maury County, but probably statewide. Columbia Central is the flagship school of Maury County; tremendous honor and a lot of prestige comes with it. I’m honored.”