The Player of the Year Watch series is presented by Nalley Roofing.
Last week the FCN highlighted five players who should compete for the softball Player of the Year title this upcoming season. We made sure to leave that list to those who excel in the field and at the plate—truth be told, making that list alone was difficult thanks to the abundance of talent, known and unknown, in the county.
Luckily our pitching list pretty much makes itself. Four of the five Region 5-7A schools will return big time starting talent. Forsyth Central will hope to recalibrate its staff and have someone make a push, but for now the five established starters that return are all capable of dominating in 2016.
The only departing hurler from last season is West Forsyth’s Kelly Carpenter, who finished last season 7-7 with a solid 2.76 ERA through 94 innings pitched and two shutouts. Carpenter’s departure puts the spotlight on a young replacement who makes the list.
But first, let’s start with the two rising seniors.
KATHERINE HUEY // SOUTH FORSYTH
Last season Huey finished 25-4 with a 1.06 ERA, 148 strikeouts, 22 complete games and five shutouts over 178 innings pitched. The Purdue commit was named the FCN’s Pitcher of the Year, was first-team all-state by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association and was first-team all-region and all-county.
Why Huey: Why not? She’s earned the last two FCN Pitcher of the Year awards and made drastic improvements last season, improving her complete game total from 10 to 22 and her shutout total from three to five.
Why not: In all serious, there’s not much that could deter anyone from expecting a three-peat from Huey. As long as she’s healthy she should be the frontrunner.
SARA KING // NORTH FORSYTH
Last season King finished 11-5 with a 2.08 ERA, 86 strikeouts, a complete game and a shutout through 104.1 innings pitched. The Morehead State commit was named first-team all-region and all-county.
Why King: King cracked the all-region and all-county team for the first time last year. Out of the returning starters she has the second most wins, but last season could have been even better for the future Division I pitcher. At 5-foot-10 she’s a taller, more powerful pitcher—much like Huey—and can hit 59 mph on the gun. Last season was her breakout year, and with confidence on her side she could blossom as a senior.
Why not: It’s pretty simple – she’ll have to outshine the two-time defending FCN Pitcher of the Year. Even drastic improvements to King’s already impressive numbers might still fall short if anything Huey does this season nears what she did last year. It would take a lot for that proverbial balance beam to even out.
KASSIDY KRUPIT // LAMBERT
Last season Krupit finished 7-2 with a 2.91 ERA, 50 strikeouts and six complete games through 67.1 innings pitched. The Delaware commit was named first-team all-region and first-team all-county.
Why Krupit: A versatile player, Krupit expects to make a bigger impact as a pitcher in her junior season. As a youngster she posted very respectable numbers while splitting time on the mound last season with Marissa Guimbarda. Delaware, as well as many SEC schools, want her for her versatility. There’s no reason to think, however, that she can’t have a breakout year on the mound in her first season as an upperclassman. Her four-pitch arsenal makes her quite a pitching prospect, alone. She can hit 65 mph on the gas.
Why not: Again – versatility is a major factor. As we wrote last week, she might contend for the Player of the Year award instead, and it’ll take a stronger starting role for her to break through the mold—or anywhere close to Huey territory.
HANNAH GUTHRIE // WEST FORSYTH
Last season Guthrie finished 7-4 with a 1.65 ERA, 39 strikeouts and a complete game through 47 innings pitched. The rising sophomore was named second-team all-region and second-team all-county.
Why Guthrie: She’ll be the leading thrower for the Lady Wolverines this upcoming season with Carpenter moving on. Because the nature of the game—having a go-to starter that eats up most of the innings—a starting spot means a fighting chance at the award. Guthrie’s experience and impressive numbers in her freshman campaign are a good sign.
Why not: Youth. With two seniors and a junior ahead of her on this list, Guthrie’s time might be further down the road. It’s safe to say that her chances of becoming the next big name in the county will come after Huey and King move on to the collegiate ranks.