Columbia County had another tremendous year in high school softball. Harlem and Greenbrier thrilled their fans with deep post-season runs that saw both finish in the Top 5 in the state in their respective classifications.
Harlem’s freshman sensation Amber Garrett was dominant on the mound during the Bulldogs’ terrific playoff showing, while Greenbrier’s Taylor Dupree emerged as one of the finest players in the Southeast. In addition, there were several other talented performers who shined in 2012.
Softball – First Team All County
Catcher: Taylor McChesney (Evans); senior
McChesney hit .496 this season with a team-best 33 RBI. She also had eight doubles, three triples and struck out only once in 96 at-bats. She was named First Team All-Region for the second straight year and has signed to play at Augusta State.
Catcher: Lee Anne Reese (Greenbrier); junior
Reese was a Second Team All-State selection and First Team All-Region. In addition to her solid defense behind the plate, she hit .355, had eight doubles, two homers and drove in 37 runs.
Infield: Taylor Dupree (Greenbrier); junior
Dupree had a brilliant 2013. She set a school record by batting .530 and was the Class AAAAA State Player of the Year. She hit in all but one game – a game in which the starters played only two innings.
Infield: Savanna Gladue (Evans); senior
This is the fourth consecutive year that Gladue has been named All-County. This season she was an All-State Honorable Mention and a First Team All-Region choice for the fourth year. She hit .353, scored 36 runs and stole 10 bases, while playing stellar defense at third base.
Infield: Kirsten McMonigle (Greenbrier); freshman
During the post-season she made spectacular play after spectacular play. She also hit .400 and drove in 14 runs. She was named First Team All-Region and Second Team All-State.
Infield: Tori Poss (Harlem); senior
Poss was Harlem’s Defensive MVP in 2012. She was named First Team All-Region after hitting .380. She has committed to play at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Alabama.
Infield: Brooke Mackelburg (Greenbrier); junior
Terrific power hitter for the ’Pack. Mackelburg hit .354 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 43 RBI.
Infield: Elyssa Melton (Evans); sophomore
Melton led the Knights with an tremendous .489 batting average. She had seven doubles, three triples and drove in 28 runs for the Knights. She also scored 36 runs and had an on-base percentage of .557. She earned First Team All-Region honors.
Outfield: Lindsey Stokes (Harlem); junior
Stokes was sensational in 2012, earning First Team All-State and All-Region nods. She hit .524 with 31 runs, 10 doubles, seven homers and 37 RBI. She was named Harlem’s team MVP and the Region 3-AA Player of the Year and named to the state’s Elite 80 Team. She is being heavily recruited by Augusta State, Columbus State and North Georgia.
Outfield: Haley Mays (Harlem), senior
Mays hit .429 with 36 runs and 10 stolen bases as Harlem’s table-setter. She was named First Team All-State and All-Region, and was selected for the North-South All-Star Game. She is being recruited by Young Harris and Shorter colleges.
Outfield: Maddie Hunt (Greenbrier); sophomore
Hunt earned First Team All-State and All-Region. She hit .451 with five triples and 21 RBI.
Utility: Kristin Rawlins (Harlem); senior
Rawlins hit .305 with 25 runs scored, six doubles and 20 RBI. She was even better on the mound, where she racked up an 11-3 mark. She finished with an ERA of 2.89. She was named First Team All-Region and Second Team All-State. She will play for Columbus State.
Pitcher: Amber Garrett (Harlem), freshman
Garrett could have easily made the team as a pitcher or position player. She had a year that is almost hard to believe. She hit .417 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 32 RBI. As a pitcher she finished the year 16-4 with a 1.29 ERA. She also struck out 100 batters in 113 innings. She was named First Team All-State and was named the Region 3-AA Pitcher of the Year. Not bad for a ninth-grader.
Pitcher: Kirsten Titus (Greenbrier); sophomore
Titus was the ace for Greenbrier. She finished 21-6 with an era of 2.89 on the mound. At the plate, Titus hit .311 with 11 doubles. She was named First Team All-Region
Evans: Alexia Schlein, Lexi Dodgen, Natalie Johnson, Savannah Gabriel, Ashton Odum
Greenbrier: Jordie Holt, Taylor Thompson, Julie Underwood, Emily Weatherman
Grovetown: Samm Peka, Kendyl Connor
Harlem: Abbie Drake, Morgan Barton, Hannah Price, Christian Mullis
Lakeside: Ashley Chafin, Meredith Stanley
Pitcher of the Year
Amber Garrett (Harlem)
Only a freshman, but dominant on the hill. She had a great year, going 16-4 with 100 strikeouts, but was even better in the post-season, where she carried Harlem to the Elite 8 and a Top 5 overall finish. Her 1.29 era was tops in the county and among the best in the entire state.
Top Offensive Player:
Lindsey Stokes (Harlem)
The numbers speak for themselves. A .524 batting average, a county-best seven home runs and a .864 slugging percentage, which also led the county. She was the Player of the Year in Region 3-AA and was a First Team All-State choice as well.
Player of the Year:
Taylor Dupree (Greenbrier); junior
This talented junior had a remarkable year. She made the transition to shortstop flawlessly and at the plate she was on a year-long hot streak. Dupree hit .530 (a new school record) and used her tremendous speed to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. She can add County Player of the Year to State Player of the Year, Region Player of the Year and Augusta Chronicle Area Player of the Year.
Coach of the Year:
Garrett Black (Greenbrier)
This was a tough call. Mike Leverett did a stellar job at Harlem, as the Bulldogs won 28 games and advanced to the Elite 8 in Class AA. However, Garrett Black took Greenbrier back to the Elite 8 again, too, and the ’Pack won 30 games.
He did not have a dominant pitcher this season like most elite teams had. Black and his squad had to figure out different ways to win. He also seemed to have a different player rise to the occasion each game. He also had a very young team. Of Black’s top 10 players, only one was a senior. This was supposed to be a difficult year for Greenbrier. Instead they made a run at a state title.
Then, throw in the milestone he achieved this season: 500 career wins. If he seems too young to have that many wins, he is. Getting to 500 victories this fast defies logic. However, when you win 16 Region Titles in 17 years, the wins start to add up. The ’Pack have won all but one region title since the school opened its doors in 1996, all with Black at the helm.
He started with a program that was more than a decade behind most of the state in terms of fastpitch softball and made them into a dynasty. His team captured the 2004 state title. They have made five Final Fours and advanced to the state Elite 8 an astonishing 13 times in the last 15 years.
Black gets the Coach of the Year award based on this season, but his and his team’s remarkable run during the past 17 years has to be noted.