By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Nine South Forsyth seniors sign to play college sports
Makenna Segal
South Forsyth senior Makenna Segal signs her Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play softball at Ole Miss. - photo by David Roberts

Max Henry couldn't wait for his junior year. 

A pivotal year in college recruiting, Henry started off the 2020 baseball season hitting .300 with a pair of doubles and thought his play would ultimately draw college coaches out to South Forsyth High School.

But once COVID-19 forced GHSA to cancel the season, Henry began to wonder how he would get recruited.

"It really hurt. I was really looking forward to region play last year, and I really thought a lot of schools would come out and see me," Henry said. "I was just heating up then. That first game got canceled and I was just bummed. I thought it was going to be impossible to get recruited at that point, but this past fall I did very well in fall ball. Not being able to go to senior showcase because I was quarantined, that hurt me too, but it all turned out good."

Henry signed Wednesday to play baseball at Volunteer State Community College in Tennessee, along with teammate Conor Finegan. 

In all, South's baseball program had four players sign to play at the next level, including Gehrig Frei (North Alabama) and Andrew Kightlinger (University of the Cumberlands).

Finegan posted a 2-2 record and 2.16 ERA for the War Eagles in 2020, striking out 30 batters in 22 2/3 innings. Finegan's older brother, Ryan Finegan, also played at South and currently plays at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

"It seems like over the last eight years he's been directly or indirectly involved in the program between himself and his family," South head coach Russ Bayer said of Conor Finegan. "His older brother came through the program and was a standout player for us and now plays college baseball. Now we get to recognize him."

Frei was in the middle of a tremendous junior campaign, hitting .450 with three doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs. He also swiped eight bases. 

Bayer also believes Frei is one of the best shortstops in the state.

"North Alabama probably signed, in my opinion, one of the greatest up-and-coming middle infielders in the Southeast," Bayer said. "They know and they're well aware that they have a person who is not only going to lead their program on the field, but outside the field as a student-athlete."

Kightlinger was in the middle of his first varsity season when the 2020 season was canceled. Still, Kightlinger found a way to achieve his goal of playing baseball in college.

"Of all the young men that have committed over the years that I've been here at South, I can honestly say Andrew Kightlinger has advocated the most for himself in terms of the recruiting process," Bayer said. "A lot of times it kind of comes naturally — people get some phone calls and things fall into place. Everything that occurred for Andrew to be able to play at the college level was a direct reflection of himself and the effort he made."

Makenna Segal leaves South as one of the school's most decorated players, regardless of the sport. 

Segal, who signed to play softball at Ole Miss, logged a .489 career batting average, collected 118 career walks and drove in 117 career runs. Her 34 home runs stand as a Forsyth County record.

"It's bittersweet because I've been waiting for this day for so long, and it was always a mystery of where I was going to be going," Segal said. "I'm happy that this day finally came, and I'm happy we were able to get it in with COVID. I'm especially happy that I was able to sign with one of my best friends in Ruthie Allen. We've always been there for each other and we always know each other's struggles with the recruiting process. Looking back on the career, it is bittersweet to think it's over, but I wouldn't change anything that happened."

Allen, who signed to play softball at Walters State Community College, played catcher for the first time this season.

South softball coach Leanne Brooks said Allen's athleticism allowed her to thrive at catcher despite limited reps coming into the season.

"Her presence alone behind the plate was incredible," Brooks said. "Just her throwdowns in between innings, we had a lot of teams that weren't going to run on her. It was great. She only caught for a year and a half, but to do some of the things that she did, you would think that she's a natural and that's her primary position."

Allen hit .434 as a senior, driving in 28 RBIs and scored 33 runs.

Ryan Lightsey, who signed to play lacrosse at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, also had his junior year canceled, as the War Eagles' boys lacrosse season lasted only nine matches.  

However, just before the season ended, Lightsey reached 100 career goals with a three-score performance in a 9-8 win against Etowah.

Lightsey was named a team captain ahead of the 2020 season, a designation typically reserved for seniors. 

"It was actually a very awesome thing to hear," Lightsey said. "They named the senior captains a couple of months before, but one practice they decided to name me a captain right before the season started, so it was an awesome feeling to hear that. It's cool to be a leader, and a two-time leader for sure."

Blake Parkman continued a family legacy Wednesday when he signed to play golf at the University of Georgia.

Parkman's father, Kanon Parkman, played football for the Bulldogs from 1991-95.

Parkman, a 6-foot-5 senior who can hit it more than 300 yards off the tee, was primed for a breakout junior year before the season was canceled. 

Jordan Edwards will travel the farthest out of South's nine signees.

Edwards signed to swim at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, after falling in love with the campus. 

Edwards notched a pair of top-10 finishes for South at the Class 6A-7A state championships, finishing sixth in the 100 fly and 10th in the 100 breaststroke.

"It was definitely really stressful, because I had a couple of official visits scheduled for March and April and they got canceled," Edwards said. "I had to do most of my recruitment through email. I didn't start talking to TCU until like March, so the beginning of quarantine. It was really stressful to not know where I'm going. We couldn't visit the campuses and you couldn't talk to the coaches in person, so that was really stressful. But they were just really welcoming and I could tell that I would fit in there."