Former Silverdale Baptist Academy softball pitcher Katie Henderson has transferred from the University of Kentucky and signed scholarship papers earlier this month with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Henderson had a 1.88 earned run average as a freshman for the Wildcats and a 3-1 pitching record, which included a five-inning no-hitter against North Carolina on March 12. But with classmate Kelsey Nunley, who played at Soddy-Daisy, leading the conference in innings pitched, Henderson felt she would have a better opportunity for more playing time elsewhere.
"It was definitely exciting," Henderson said of competing in the Southeastern Conference. "It was a great experience to be able to compete against the best of the best and meet some new people. It just didn't feel like the right fit."
UTC was among the schools that recruited Henderson out of high school. Lady Mocs coach Frank Reed said once he received paperwork indicating Henderson was leaving UK, he arranged a visit and she signed soon afterward.
"Some of these kids have to go away sometimes to see how awesome it is to be here," said Reed, who noted that recent Lady Mocs Nikki Waters, from Soddy-Daisy, and Tiffany Baker, from East Ridge, were transfers from Southern Illinois and Tennessee, respectively.
Pitching was a big concern last season for the Lady Mocs, beginning with freshman Rachel Albritton (6-6, 3.00 ERA) still returning to form from an injury. Reed said sophomore Taylor Deason (16-12, 3.46) slumped a little and was unable to match her 23 pitching victories from the previous year, and freshman Kaisey Carson (4-9, 3.59) was inconsistent and also had some academic issues.
Henderson threw 22 1/3 innings for the Wildcats this past season, allowing 16 hits and nine walks while striking out 18.
"If you look at her innings pitched to strikeouts, they're right there," Reed said. "Obviously she played good competition being in the SEC. I think it's a loss for Kentucky and a big gain for us. She's a great kid. She has a great GPA. And she's a good pitcher to go along with that."
Henderson started her prep career at Boyd-Buchanan before transferring to Silverdale after her freshman year. She said the experience of having been through something similar before should help in the transition between colleges.
"I just look at it as a new start," Henderson said. "It gives me a chance to represent Chattanooga, my hometown. I know if I keep working harder I'm going to have a chance to be successful."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.