With the entire sports world shut down for the last two weeks due to the coronavirus my life has been full of honey-do lists, and binge television watching. By the way, the rain has made things even more difficult because it limits you to inside work which is not my forte. Nevertheless it's time to write something a couple of times per week just to shake the rust off. And it's raining again today and you can only clean out your closet once every few months.
I decided after much thought, I would make a few sports related lists. You know, the best all-time players, the best all-time teams, etc. I've spent 45 years covering sports in the Chattanooga area and I'm not bragging here because I consider myself very lucky to have seen the very best our area has to offer for a very long time.
It's nothing I have ever done, it's the privilege I was given to witness some outstanding athletes and coaches. Today, I'll begin with a popular trend in sports today, the " Mount Rushmore "of certain sports. In other words, the four best in several categories.
I'll begin with Girl's softball. The " Mount Rushmore " of players from the Chattanooga area.
Jackie McClain - GPS and Alabama: Jackie was certainly the best hitter I ever saw. The left-handed swinging McClain had power and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. She led GPS to Coach Susan Crownover's first couple of State Titles as a shortstop in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She was a three time-All-SEC performer and All-American at Alabama and no doubt heads the list of the four best players ever from Chattanooga.
Beth Alexander - East Ridge and UTC: Beth is arguably the best pitcher to ever come out of Chattanooga. She led East Ridge to a couple of State Titles in high school then led UTC to some Southern Conference Championships when Ralph and Karen Weekly were here coaching the Mocs. She put together a career record of 78-36 and was named the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year twice. She was also an NCAA All-Region Performer as well.
Amy Robertson- Baylor and UTC: Amy was the SoCon Pitcher of the Year in 1998 for the Lady Mocs but she is likely best known for one weekend's work in the TSSAA State Tournament in 1994. She pitched Baylor to a 1-0 win over Brentwood in a game that went 16 innings and ended in the wee hours of the morning at Warner Park. She graduated from Baylor on Saturday and showed up to pitch two more games, both wins, leading Baylor to the state title. She had an ERA of 0.53 at Baylor and was an All-Southern Conference pitcher at UTC.
Nicole Henry - Whitwell and Mississippi State: This is a personal choice for me because I had the privilege of not only watching this young lady play but I also coached her for a couple of years in the summer. She played shortstop at Whitwell and for me as well and had the best throwing arm I ever saw, period. She made plays and throws that were absolutely unbelievable. As far as batting, she was among the very best I ever saw. She hit a ball at Warner Park that not only went over the fence, but across Holtzclaw Avenue and the railroad tracks as well, still one of the longest balls I have ever seen hit by any player.
This list was very hard to come up with. If the list consisted of five I would have chosen Former Soddy-Daisy and Kentucky star Kelsey Nunley. But I had to stop at four to fit the "Mount Rushmore" format. This was my list and in no way is anything official. It's fun to think about and talk about and I fully expect to get some reaction from readers which I welcome. Feel free to send me an email with your own list and later this week, I'll do a " Mount Rushmore " of area softball coaches.
Stay safe and remember to wash your hands!
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com