published Monday, April 29th, 2013

Hannah Morrison keeps Marion moving

Marion County's Hannah Morrison signed scholarship papers last week and will continue her softball career at Carson-Newman College.

"I felt like I wasn't just going to be a number there," Morrison said after taking two visits to the campus in Jefferson City, Tenn. "The professors I met were really nice, the coaches were great. I wasn't nervous or anything. I felt really comfortable there."

Morrison played first base for Marion County her freshman and sophomore years and has played third base the last two seasons. The Lady Warriors have won the District 6-A tournament each of her previous three seasons and earlier this month captured the regular-season title for the fourth consecutive year. She helped them to a state-tournament appearance in 2011 which was the second in school history.

This season Morrison is batting .360 with two homers, six doubles, 24 runs scored and 22 RBIs. Her team-high 21 walks are four more than leadoff-batter Brooke Baxter and at least nine more than anyone else on the team.

"She's just always been one we could count on with her bat," Marion County coach Chris Thomas said. "In years past she's hit with power, and still can hit with power. But a lot of people like pitching around her this year. She's not gotten as many balls to be able to attack."

Morrison said she plans to major in biology.

Five of 6 crowned

The TSSAA Divison I softball season is down to its final week of the regular season and District 5-A is the only one among the six districts involving local teams that hasn't settled its regular-season championship.

Arts & Sciences is 4-0 in district games, but still has that many remaining. The Lady Patriots are scheduled to play a doubleheader at Copper Basin today, then play at Warner Park against Grace Academy on Tuesday and against Boyd-Buchanan on Thursday.

"I feel confeident," CSAS coach Kaity Holloway said. "We've played everybody but Copper Basin once so we kind of know what to expect. We're still not stressing about what's going on in the other dugout but worrying more about ourselves and what we need to be doing."

Although it has a district game remaining Tuesday against McMinn Central, Meigs County became the most recent team to clinch. The Lady Tigers got a combined 5-for-8 effort with six RBIs from Chloe Grayson and Angel Davis, winning 6-1 at Polk County on Thursday and ending up 5-0 for the week. Meigs County coach Jeff Davis said hitting with runners on base is the key for his team moving forward.

"We've pitched it really good and played pretty good defense," Davis said. "I think we're averaging one error a game, which is pretty good for high school."

District 5-AAA's Walker Valley and 7-AA's Bledsoe County are scheduled to play district games Tuesday but they already secured their regular-season championships by winning last Tuesday. East Hamilton can be no worse than co-champion in District 6-AA and will be top-seeded in the tournament, but must beat Tyner on Tuesday to earn the title outright. Marion County became the first local team to clinch when it edged Whitwell 3-2 with the top spot in District 6-A on the line April 16.

Grace's youth movement

Grace Academy's high school varsity softball team about halfway resembles a middle school team -- literally.

Last season the Lady Golden Eagles won the Class A state championship, led by a strong senior class. Coach Tina Walker was left to fill the holes those seniors left behind and has ended up settling on four eighth-graders as regular starters.

With contributions from Summer Dean, Stephanie Hernandez, Brittany McGoy and Alex Smith, Grace is 12-13 going into today's scheduled game against Red Bank at White Oak Park and is in second place in the District 5 standings at 5-1.

"That's really more than what I expected," Walker said. "I knew they could perform, but they've done a great job. They've come a long way. All I can ask is that they work to get better over time and they've done a good job of that."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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