Player of the Year: Martin made her mark at the plate for Northgate
By DOUG GORMAN
The best strategy for pitching to Northgate senior Andie Martin might be to walk her.
Because whenever opponents elected to pitch to the versatile power-hitting softball player, she often made them pay with a screaming line drive over the fence.
Those numbers were good enough to earn the senior — who played both first base and catcher — Newnan Times-Herald Player of the Year honors.
“What we will miss the most about Andie is when we needed to get something done, we knew it would happen no matter what type situation it was; I knew I could count on her,” Northgate head coach Lisa Skelton.
Northgate finished the season with a 29-10 record and ranked second in the final gasports.com Class AAAAA poll.
Martin, who helped her team win a Class AAAA state softball title as a junior, couldn’t help her team capture the magic again this season, losing twice at the Elite 8, but her best softball is in front of her.
The former Lady Vikings’ slugger recently signed a Division I scholarship to play for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers out of the Sun Belt Conference.
Martin's dream of playing at the Division I level began almost 14 years ago when she joined her first recreational softball team as a 4-year-old. She quickly moved up the softball ranks, joining her first travel ball team as an 8-year-old. These days she makes the trek to East Cobb to play travel ball with an 18-year-old team.
Although Martin primarily played first base for the Lady Vikings, she is expected to catch once she gets to college.
Martin didn’t start out intending to play that position. She made the transition as a 16-year-old when she was talked into putting on catcher’s gear during the summer.
Now, she is trying to get better by taking catching lessons in order to get more comfortable playing the position.
“It’s a lot to learn, but it’s coming together,” she said. “It is still a work in progress.”
Martin first caught the attention of Western Kentucky head coach Tyra Perry nearly two years ago.
“She was really involved with recruiting me, and she started coming to a lot of my games,” Martin said.
At the time, Martin had never heard of the Lady Hilltoppers, but soon realized committing to play at Western Kentucky was a good fit.
“My coach of my travel ball team set up a phone call with them,” Martin said. “It was my first call to a college coach, and it just grew from there.”
Once Martin visited the school, she fell in love with the Bowling Green campus and knew she had found a home.
“They are doing a lot of construction and always trying to make it better,” she said. “I am just really excited.”
Martin is disappointed she didn’t get to add a second championship ring to her high school resume, but wouldn’t trade her high school memories for anything.
“It keeps us together and you make so many friends,” she said. "It’s a good experience.”
In addition to her powerful bat and defensive ability with her glove, Martin’s will also be remembered for her even keel personality.
“She is very calm,” Skelton said. “She doesn’t let anything derail her with what she has to do. What she does, kind of spills over to other players.”
Despite her ability to make things happen, she seldom got rattled when things weren’t going her way.”
“She doesn’t get loud,” Skelton said. “Sometimes I wish she would get a little louder so people could go by her example, but that just not her style.”
Martin is one of several players from Northgate to have signed letters of intent to Division I schools recently.
“I think the best thing about this is it shows younger players what a little hard work can do,” Skelton said. “She does show that if you want to play at the next level, you really have to work hard.”
Martin is joined by five Northgate teammates who earned All-County honors.
They include sophomore third baseman Jenna Pealor, who gave the Lady Vikings a boost with a .465 average, six homers and 22 RBIs while finishing with a slugging percentage of .646 as Martin’s heir apparent.
Another sophomore, outfielder Ebonee Echols, equally added bright hopes for the future by hitting .343 with four homers to go with a .446 on-base percentage.
Not that Northgate didn’t have senior leadership to go with Martin during a 29-10 season that ended with another trip to the GHSA Elite 8 Tournament in Columbus. Pitcher Carleigh Myatt and catcher Katie Burns each added leadership on and off the field. Each is now headed to play at Reinhardt College.
Myatt posted a 1.41 ERA while also batting .351 on the season. Burns batted .310 and had a fielding percentage of .946.
Those five are joined by junior outfielder Brenna Skalski, who hit .432 and posted a .500 on-base percentage.
Six East Coweta players joined Pitcher of the Year Megan Chocallo (see related story) on the All-County team. The group helped East Coweta reach the GHSA Elite 8 Tournament for the eighth consecutive season while finishing the fall with a 33-5-1 record and a Region 3-AAAAAA championship.
The Lady Indians were led at the plate and in the field by standout sophomore shortstop Shemiah Sanchez, who continued to perform like a veteran. Sanchez led the Lady Indians with a .464 average, posting 35 RBIs and finishing with a whopping 19 extra-base hits. She added 28 runs for the season.
East Coweta’s infield also included All-County selections Sarah Colwell at first base, Kia Smith at second and Reba Jones behind the plate.
Colwell batted .291 with 25 RBIs, while Smith and freshman Mekhia Freeman were table-setters at the top of the Lady Indians order. Smith batted .356 with 35 runs and 31 stolen bases . Freeman added 32 runs and 19 stolen bases while batting .400 as East Coweta’s starting center-fielder.
Defensively, Jones was equally outstanding cutting down base runners with 21 assists at catcher. She finished with a .310 average and 20 RBIs.
Meanwhile, sophomore Katie Lynch gave the Lady Indians versatility both in the outfield and as a backup catcher, also earning All-County honors. She batted .338 with 10 doubles and 24 RBIs.
Newnan had five players represented on the All-County team during another state playoff season, finishing two wins shy of reaching the Elite 8 at 19-15 overall.
The Lady Cougars’ selections included first baseman Abbey Garner who hit .340 with 19 RBIs while referred to by head coach Carrie Gilmore as “the most competitive player that I’ve ever coached. She motivated her teammates and truly cared about them,” Gilmore added.
Sophomore catcher Arden Jobe continued an impressive start to her varsity career by finishing with a .440 batting average to go with two homers and 31 RBIs. She was second in both on-base and slugging percentage among Newnan batters while described by Gilmore as a “very coachable” player with “a great attitude.”
Junior shortstop Chaycie Goggins was the leader in both categories while also batting .440 with 36 RBIs. The switch-hitter was one of three Lady Cougars underclassmen that will return next fall.
The other is outfielder Shania Colton, who finished with a .350 average and 14 RBIs while scoring 30 runs to go with eight extra-base hits.
In her final year in a Newnan uniform, senior third baseman Sydney Garmany ended her career by posting a .300 average with 16 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits. She was also second on the team with 34 runs scored.