National Champ Chattanooga State Softball Reloading Under New Coach Blythe Golden

Monday, February 04, 2013
Chattanooga State softball 2013
Chattanooga State softball 2013

Chattanooga State softball has launched its 2013 season under new coach Blythe Golden and assistant Amanda Lindsey with a 5-2 record during a Florida excursion. That came after the Tigers won the national JUCO championship last season.

The Tigers begin the season nationally ranked pre-season no. 17. The team has only two full-time starters from the 2012 National Championship team returning for the 2013 season. There will be many new faces in the Tiger lineup this year because of a large freshman class.

Coach Golden said, "We have some freshman who are ready to step into their roles both offensively and defensively and make an immediate impact. They are working hard and becoming a student of the game. Their efforts really showed off in our first weekend of competition and I look forward to lots of production throughout the year."

The offense will be led by returning players Lacye Walker and Marina Wilkerson. They were heavy contributors on the 2012 National Championship team. Kristen Qualls, Beth Breeden and Makinley Fletcher will also compete for starting roles. Their experience from last year should bring confidence and productivity to the lineup.

Coach Golden said, "We will rely heavily on the small sophomore class to bring leadership in tough situations, as well as offensive production at the top of our lineup," Walker's batting average after opening weekend was .615 with a slugging percentage of 1.192 (6 2B, 3 HR, and 15 RBIs). Wilkerson and Neely also came up big for the Lady Tigers with a combined 4 doubles and 7 RBIs; both hitting above .350 for the weekend.

The Tigers will be led in the circle by three key pitchers. Haley Fagan is a transfer from UT-Knoxville who joined the team this January. Lacye Walker will also see some innings on the mound as well as at first base. The third pitcher will be freshman Shelby Willard from Chattanooga Central High School. Golden said, "All of our pitchers have been coming along and working hard to develop into strong competitors. They will each see lots of innings on the mound. We are still working to see what combinations we will like best. We like the fact that each of them brings something different to the circle and this will help us keep other offenses guessing."

The Tigers lost the season opener to Miami Dade (5-1) and to Santa Fe State College (9-7) after making a 7-run comeback when trailing 8-0 in the 5th. They were able to beat Florida State College at Jacksonville 6-3 in the nightcap on Saturday. FSCJ was ranked 5th nationally and 3rd in the state of Florida. Chattanooga State was able to blow past Broward with an 8-0 win in 5 innings, a 14-5 win over St. Johns River, and showed true grit on Sunday morning coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the 3rd inning to win 7-5 over Pensacola State.

Coach Golden said, "Our team showed great determination on opening weekend proving that they can come from behind to win close ballgames. We only had 5 outdoor practices leading up to the weekend and we did not know what we would get from our team. We fought hard and got better each game. Our at bats improved, our defense began to gel, and our pitchers stuck it out and were able to get us outs when we needed them."

The pitching staff combined for 33 strikeouts on the weekend. "Our pitching staff was not ready for a seven-game weekend so early in the season but we learned a lot about our weaknesses and what areas we need to tackle in February," Golden said. "We have confidence that our pitching staff will be where we want them when the time is right. In our league, with such long seasons, it is all about peaking at the right time. Coach Lindsey has done a tremendous job with our staff and we are looking forward to watching them progress to the top of their game as we move deeper into the season."

The Tigers will match up again on Feb. 21 in Panama City, Fla., against Gulf Coast State College. This will be a homecoming for new head coach Golden as she faces her former team in a double header before the Gulf Coast Beach Classic (Feb. 22-24). She said, "I am looking forward to watching our team play after working hard for three weeks of practice. They should be hungry to get out on the field again and stack up some wins on the weekend. It will be nice to go back and play in front of my home fan base and against my mentor and long time friend, Susan Painter.

"Gulf Coast has had a good start to their season and will be a tough opponent for us after sitting for three weeks. We want to be our best in March-May and in order to be our best we have to play the best and learn how to win big games."

The Tigers will also square off that weekend with Wallace-Hanceville, a frequent National Tournament participant, Northwest Florida State College, and State College of Florida - at team that represented Florida at the National Tournament last year.

1 Sierra Ford OF 5-8 Powhatan, VA (US) Powhatan Freshman
2 Courtney Clark 2B 5-5 Murfreesboro, TN (US) Riverdale Freshman
3 Makinley Fletcher 2B 5-4 Newnan, GA (US) Arlington Christian Sophomore
4 Baylee Williams SS 5-2 Farragut, TN (US) Farragut Freshman
7 Marina Wilkerson OF 5-8 Hogansville, GA (US) LaGrange Academy Sophomore
8 Lauren Heitz C 5-10 Orlando, FL (US) Lake Nona Freshman
9 Lacye Walker 1B 5-6 Ooltewah, TN (US) Grace Baptist Academy Sophomore
10 Emily Dagnan C 5-4 Jasper, TN (US) Sequatchie County Freshman
11 Haley Fagan P 6-0 Cornersville, TN (US) Cornersville Sophomore
12 Khadija Neely SS 5-4 Roanoke, AL (US) LaGrange Academy Freshman
14 Layne Smith P 5-11 Elkmont, AL (US) Elmont Freshman
15 Hannah Hodge SS 5-5 Hopkinsville, KY (US) Christian Co. Freshman
16 Kelsey Thomas SS 5-4 Jasper, TN (US) Marion County Freshman
17 Elyse Ferguson OF 5-7 Dunwoody, GA (US) Dunwoody Freshman
19 Kristen Qualls UT 5-9 Midland, GA (US) Northside Sophomore
20 Beth Breeden 1B 5-10 Sweetwater, TN (US) Sweetwater Sophomore
21 Kiauna Chang OF 5-4 Grovetown, GA (US) Grovetown Freshman
22 Shelby Willard P 5-10 Chattanooga, TN (US) Chattanooga Central Freshman
26 Shelby Robertson SS 5-5 Ringgold, GA (US) Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Sophomore


McCallie's Bubba Simmons Steps Down as A.D.

C.R. “Bubba” Simmons  has announced plans to step down from his position as Athletic Director at McCallie School and accept the position of principal at Gordon Lee High School. Mr. Simmons took the helm of the school’s athletic department in 2008. Over the course of his career, which includes two previous stints, Mr. Simmons has served McCallie for almost 20 years. ... (click for more)

Biggest Crowd Ever At Boyd's Speedway On Tuesday Night

In what can only be described as the biggest crowd ever at Boyd's Speedway, the Schaeffer’s Oil: Southern Nationals Series presented by Old Man’s Garage was a huge success Tuesday night with NASCAR drivers Ty & Austin Dillon. With over 90 racecars, four divisions of competition and a packed general admssion grand stand area, racers from 9-states and 1-country (Australia) the ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Council To Hold Special Meeting On Naming New City Judge

The Cleveland City Council will hold a special called meeting next Monday to consider an interim appointment of a city judge. It will be at 11:45 a.m. at the City Council’s regular meeting place in the Cleveland Municipal Building, 190 Church Street, NE. The council will also establish the process for application for city judge. Longtime City Judge Bill Moss died July ... (click for more)

13,830 Have Voted Early In Hamilton County

There have been 13,830 to vote early in Hamilton County thus far, including 10,233 who asked for Republican ballots and 3,447 who asked for Democratic ballots. The totals for Tuesday included: ABSENTEE/BY MAIL Ballot Type - D 81 Ballot Type - G 63 Ballot Type - R 193 Location Totals 337 BRAINERD REC CTR Ballot Type - D 1,442 Ballot Type - G 2 Ballot Type ... (click for more)

Thankful For Senators Alexander And Corker's Support Of The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Fleet - And Response (2)

America’s national security at home and abroad is important to all of us.  So it is very important to recognize and thank our leaders when they show strong support for our military. That’s why I am writing to thank Senators Alexander and Corker for their continued commitment to our great state, our nation, and especially to our military.  Their support ensures that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scottsboro’s Pat Trammell

I got a warm feeling Tuesday when it was announced Pat Trammell will be among those in the inaugural class of the Jackson County (Ala.) Sports Hall of Fame. When the august group is enshrined at Scottsboro’s Goose Pond Civic Center on Nov. 1, most folks won’t even know who Pat Trammell was but I knew all about him in my very first year as a fledgling sports writer back in 1967 and, ... (click for more)