By Jamie Wachter
The Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — Her role was expected to be easy — just hit.
Instead, Karson King has had to adjust to an unexpected and much more difficult role as the Valdosta State softball team’s No. 1 cheerleader.
Bringing a big bat with her from Gordon State College, King figured to be part of the deep and talented Blazers lineup. And she was capably filling that slot each of the past two years. At least early. Then the injuries happened.
“It’s definitely been tough because obviously I wanted to finish a season for once,” King said. “I’m just trying to take over my new role on the team, and that part has been simple because yeah I went down, but I still want them to be successful.”
Added VSU coach Thomas Macera: “It hurts anytime, I mean she’s a .375 hitter that probably would have hit 15 home runs a year. She was on pace to do that both times she’s gotten hurt. It’s just unfortunate.”
Last season, King started the first 22 games and hit .377 with five home runs and 26 RBIs before suffering a season-ending knee injury at West Alabama.
This year, King was a constant in the VSU order for the first 29 games as she hit .329 with four home runs and 22 RBIs before again suffering a season-ending injury to the same knee at West Alabama.
“I just feel bad for Karson,” Macera said. “She’s a senior and goes down twice, two years in a row at West Alabama.”
While disappointed, King didn’t let the injury remove her from the close-knit Blazers’ dynamic. Rather, she did whatever she could to help keep VSU pointed forward.
“It’s never easy to get hurt and it was actually harder this time because I thought I’d gotten past that,” she said. “But things happen for a reason, and I’m trying to live with that part of it and just be here for them, because at this point that’s all I can do.”
Said Courtney Albritton: “She travels every trip and she’s a big help in the dugout, cheering for us. And she has our back just like she would on the field. But we have definitely missed her on the field.”
She has even turned into a helping hand — or eye — in the bullpen for the VSU pitching staff.
“She helps me and will stat for me and will help me,” senior Brianna Hancock said. “She still has an eye for the ball and she’ll tell me if a pitch is good or not.
“She plays her role on the team. They’re weird roles, they’re different. But she’s there and she’s encouraging and she loves us.”
It helped, too, that freshman Chelsea Canara settled into the second base spot and has hit .322 with five home runs and 40 RBIs, while fellow freshman Heather Robinson has bashed 10 home runs with 32 RBIs as the Blazers’ primary designated player.
“What’s fortunate for us is we’ve had kids come off the bench, step up and fill in and have played well also,” Macera said. “I would love to have her playing this weekend, but we have what we have. And what we have is what got us here and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Added King: “Everyone on the team is capable, so it hasn’t been hard to fill.
“I just try to be there for them, encourage them, let them know that I’m there for them. That they can do it and that I believe they can do it.”
That new role has led to two trips to the national tournament. And while she clearly would rather be on the field in Salem, Va., this weekend, King would still happily take a national championship.
“I want to win a national championship just as bad as they do, even though I’m on the bench,” she said.
By Jamie Wachter
- Local Sports
In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.
Grable signs with Tampa Bay
Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.
Just Keep Running
Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.
DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series
DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.
Milestones on tap for upcoming season
Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.
- Back on top
- Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season
- Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10
Anthony Smith ready for new test in college
Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.
Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament
The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.
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- Winding Down