When asked about her first memories of playing softball, Lauderdale County’s Morgan White paused and chuckled as she struggled to come up with an answer for when she was first introduced to the game.
“Probably t-ball or little league or something,” White said. “I have been playing so long that I honestly couldn’t even tell you.”
Recently in her career, White has helped her team to an appearance in the state tournament in 2018 and an appearance this year at the regional tournament. This past season White was among the most accomplished power hitters in the area, hitting .467 with 20 doubles, 22 home runs and two triples.
For her accomplishments, White repeats as the TimesDaily small school softball hitter of the year.
White will be honored along with the other players of the year June 11 at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum. At the banquet, overall male and female athletes of the year will be announced along with the top boys and girls programs of the year. The keynote speaker will be motivational speaker and professional fisherman Clay Dyer.
White enjoys hitting home runs, but she is more enthusiastic when she can come through in the clutch with key RBIs.
“It just feels better to know that my team can count on me to get runs in,” White said.
White said throughout all her time playing softball, the game has always stood out to her because of the lessons it teaches.
“It definitely teaches you that you don’t get anything that you didn’t earn,” White said. “You have to work hard if you want something.”
White said one of her biggest individual goals was to grow as a player and continue playing softball in college. Although White said she still has work to do before she is ready to play at the college level, she is committed to North Alabama.
She said she plans to use her final high school season to continue to improve as a hitter and become more consistent.
Head coach Trent Patterson said he has also seen her improve defensively with her work at third base.
Patterson said White is a motivated player who is constantly working to make herself better.
“She doesn’t want to be average,” Patterson said. “She wants to be good.”
Patterson said as a coach it is nice having a player who is talented but humble.
“She never talks about herself,” Patterson said. “If she ever is, it’s asking questions to make herself better.”
As far as her team goes, White wants to make sure the Tigers are back in the hunt for a state tournament berth.
Coach of the Year: Matt Burgess
When Mars Hill’s Matt Burgess started the 2019 season, he knew he had a strong returning lineup from a 2018 runner-up year in Class 2A but said he was unsure how his team would stack up in Class 1A.
“We normally could use teams like Hatton to kind of compare ourselves and have an idea of what to expect,” Burgess said. “This year there were just a lot more unknowns.”
Fifty games, a 40-10 record and a state championship later, Burgess in the TimesDaily Class 1A-3A Softball Coach of the Year.
Burgess said it was strange for him as a coach watching the baseball team win a state championship earlier that week against Brantley knowing that was a school the Panthers would most likely face in the state softball tournament.
“I thought ‘what are the chances that we are both going to lose to the same team one year and beat the same team the next year?’” Burgess said. “Whenever it got down to the final game and we saw we were facing Brantley, we knew what we had to do.”
Burgess said his team has pushed hard every year and saw improvement from two final four appearances to a state runner-up and finally a state championship.
“They just wanted to keep getting better and move on and go further into that state tournament, so to finally win, I am just so proud of them,” Burgess said. “They make my job look easy.”