By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The sight of Morgan Cleveland excelling on the West End High School softball field’s varsity pitcher’s mound and batter’s box has been a familiar one over the past seven years for the folks in Walnut Grove and Altoona.
The Lady Patriot senior has accumulated a fair amount of recognition during her seven varsity seasons, including being selected to the Class 2A All-State First Team the past three years.
A three-sport athlete, Cleveland also made first team All-State in softball, volleyball and basketball her junior year. This past season, Cleveland was named to the all-state team at the utility position.
Cleveland, who signed a volleyball scholarship with Shorter (Ga.) College in the fall, has one more item to place in her high school scrapbook – The Messenger’s 2014 All-Area Softball Team’s Player of the Year.
Cleveland posted a 15-10 record on the mound with 115 strikeouts and a 1.18 earned run average in 143 innings. She finished with 597 career strikeouts. At the plate, Cleveland batted .423 with 26 doubles 42 RBI and five home runs. Her production helped the Lady Patriots win the Class 2A, Area 13 Tournament title and gain a spot in the North Regional Tournament.
“I don’t have anyone even remotely close to replace Morgan, so she’ll definitely be missed,” said WEHS softball coach Ricky Watkins. “She’s a good kid who always does what’s asked of her. Every time Morgan went to the mound, I knew we’d have chance to win.
“Morgan’s the typical perfect role model for other girls that you love to coach. She’s a good leader in the classroom, on the field and in the clubhouse. If she didn’t sign [a scholarship] for volleyball, she definitely could have played [softball] at the next level.”
Joining Cleveland on the All-Area first team pitching staff is Southside junior Claire Graves (82 innings, 1.26 ERA, 100 strikeouts, 8-3 record), Hokes Bluff senior Mallory Bellyou (210 innings, 2.19 ERA, 154 strikeouts, 21-13 record), Southside junior Brittany Williams (102 innings, 1.46 ERA, 82 strikeouts, 19-2 record) and Glencoe junior Jessica Rathjie.
Making up the infield are Glencoe freshman catcher Alaina Hampton (.355 batting average, 38 hits, 36 RBI), West End senior first baseman Courtney Oliver at first base (.394 batting average, 43 hits, 29 RBI, two home runs) Sardis senior second baseman Payton Golden (.331 batting average, 42 hits, 24 runs), Hokes Bluff senior shortstop Carlie Shields (.412 batting average, 47 hits, 32 RBI, 31 runs) and Southside junior third baseman Savannah Elkins (.300 batting average, 43 hits, 31 RBI, 29 runs).
Outfielders are Southside junior Paiden Kircus (.366 batting average, 53 hits, 33 RBI, 36 runs), Gadsden City sophomore Lindsey Arnold (.434 batting average, 53 hits, 33 RBI, 22 runs) and Southside 8th grader Emilee Coker (.472 batting average, 50 hits, 46 runs, 33 steals).
Etowah junior Madison Grant (.366 batting average, 37 hits, 33 RBI, 17 runs; 145 innings, 3.22 ERA, 106 strikeouts) mans the utility position.
At designated hitter is Etowah’s Etowah junior Amber Jones (.400 batting average, 48 hits, 31 RBI, 40 runs, five home runs).
The second team pitching staff includes Southside freshman Savannah Yancey (98.33 innings, 2.63 ERA, 68 strikeouts), Sardis sophomore Lauryn Noojin (103 innings, 2.45 ERA, 51 strikeouts), Gadsden City junior Eli-zabeth Kantzler and Etowah junior Kaylee Walker (89 innings, 2.61 ERA, 41 strikeouts).
The second team infield features Etowah sophomore catcher Aimee Fancher (.291 batting average, 34 hits, 26 runs, 21 RBI), Glencoe junior first baseman Sally Tinker (.385 batting average, 42 hits, 25 RBI), West End sophomore second baseman Destiney Butts (.311 batting average, 29 runs, .983 fielding percentage), Southside sophomore shortstop Mollie Free (.305 batting average, 36 hits, 23 RBI, 39 runs, four home runs) and Hokes Bluff junior third baseman Hannah Evans (.372 batting average, 48 hits, 30 runs).
The second team outfield features Southside freshman Mallory Smith (.396 batting average, 57 hits, 44 runs), Sardis senior Kacee Mashburn (.298 batting average, 36 hits, 18 RBI, 16 runs,) and Gadsden City sophomore Lindsey Tomlinson (.407 batting average, 50 hits, 29 RBI, 30 runs).
Editor’s note: the members of the 2014 All-Messenger softball team were selected based upon statistics received from the 10 high schools in Etowah County.