WARNER ROBINS — A fearsome hitter and a skilled fielder, Kourtny Thomas’ biggest contribution to the Houston County softball team may have come before the first pitch of any game was thrown.
Over four years as the Lady Bears’ shortstop, Thomas started 132 of the team’s 135 games. The only ones she missed came this year when she sat out a week with a concussion.
Houston County coach Angela Crawford called it a blessing to be able to scratch the same name in the lineup game after game after game. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that Thomas hit nearly .400 during her four-year career.
“You give credit to both the fact she’s out there and what she does when she’s playing,” Crawford said. “Knowing that we can count on her, that consistency is such a boost.
“For a high school athlete, it’s not just about going out there and putting on your uniform. There’s the need to stay on top of class work. There’s a need to take care of your body.
It’s a point of pride for Thomas, as well. She has played through injuries that might have shelved other players, calling that “one of my biggest accomplishments.”
During her senior season, Thomas batted .370 with six home runs and more than 30 RBI. She helped lead Houston County to its fourth consecutive GHSA Region 1-AAAAA championship. And this year, the Bears had a long playoff run that ended up with a second place finish in Class AAAAA.
“She hits lasers,” Crawford said. “The home runs she hits only go about 10 feet over the fence. I prayed nobody was behind the fence at football practice.”
For all her good work, Thomas is The Telegraph selection for All-Middle Georgia Softball Player of the Year. It’s one of several honors recent honors for Thomas. She was recently named first-team, all-state for the second year in a row. She is also a three-time all-region selection.
The accolades didn’t come without a price. At an even 6-foot-0, Thomas was developing a promising prep basketball career when she gave the game up after her sophomore season.
“I stayed up late that night, considering the pros and cons,” Thomas said. “I didn’t want to hurt softball. That’s what I’m going to school for.”
Indeed, just a few weeks ago, Thomas accepted a scholarship to continue her education and play softball at Tennessee. It’s a lifelong dream, she said.
Thomas said one of her biggest concerns about college is time management.
“I’ll have to spread my time out and do things on my own,” she said. “No one’s going to be telling me what to do. I have to do it on my own.”
She has proven she can handle that, day after day.
All-Middle Georgia Softball Team
Player of the Year: Kourtny Thomas, Houston County, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Angela Crawford, Houston County
C Julie Ann Bradley, Stratford, Soph.
Hit .371 with 3 HR, 8 2B and 36 RBI. Scored 23 runs while striking out only four times.
C Savannah Sloan, Taylor County, Jr.
Hit .500 with 4 3B, 4 HR, 6 2B, 13 SB, 22 RBI and 29 runs scored.
IF Erica Vasquez, Houston County, Sr.
Hit .404 with 11 HR and 50 RBI — both tops in Middle Georgia — for the state runners-up.
IF Chandler Williams, Mary Persons, Sr.
Hit .449 with 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 25 RBI and 28 runs scored.
IF Breigh Lindley, Rutland, Sr.
Georgia Southern-signee hit .414 with a .463 on-base percentage.
IF Erika Bilbrey, Monticello, Sr.
Hit .435 with 11 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 13 SB, 19 runs and 23 RBI.
IF Morgan Long, Stratford, Soph.
Hit .455 with 7 2B, 2 3B, 19 RBI and 38 runs to lead Stratford to a GISA championship.
OF Cember Carmichael, Spalding, Sr.
Hit . 449 with 10 2B, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 36 runs and had a .597 on-base percentage.
OF Kaley Peacock, Jones County, Jr.
Hit .340 with 8 2B, 1 HR, 17 RBI and 18 runs scored to help lead Jones County to a fifth-place finish.
OF April Collins, Houston County, Sr.
Hit .471 with 3 2B, 9 SB, 15 RBI and 31 runs scored.
OF Kaylee Fuller, GMC, Sr.
Hit .388 with 24 runs, 12 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR and 27 RBI and earned all-state honors.
P Cassie Avant, Brentwood, Sr.
Brentwood’s ace had a 0.69 ERA and struck out 172 hitters in 163 innings pitched.
P Jessica Burroughs, Houston County, Soph.
She went 15-4 with a 0.52 ERA and struck out 237 hitters in 121 innings pitched.
P Sarah Purvis, Northside, Sr.
The Eagles’ ace went 14-6 with a 0.76 ERA and struck out an area-best 297 batters in 138 innings.
P Kristin Carr, Jones County, Jr.
All-state junior went 18-8 with a 0.89 ERA and struck out 193 batters in 181 innings.
P Lindsey Murphey, Tattnall Square, Jr.
The Trojans’ ace led her team to a 25-8 season with a dominant performance on the mound.
UTIL Christine Campbell, Westfield, Soph.
The Hornets’ ace went 21-7 with a 0.96 ERA with 164 strikeouts and hit .363 with 2 HR.
UTIL Jenna Byrd, FPD, Fr.
Byrd won 22 games and struck out 192 batters with a 1.07 ERA. She also hit .316.
C Megan Kildahl, Monticello, Sr
C Lauryn Dennard, GMC, Sr.
IF Kayla Steele, Tattnall Square, Soph.
IF Susanna Stokes, FPD, Sr.
IF Tiffany James, Perry, Sr.
IF Kiley Barrett, Warner Robins, Sr.
IF Ashton Holt, Dodge County, Soph.
OF Fran Johnson, FPD, Jr.
OF Ansley Brantley, Johnson County, Jr.
OF Sam McDaniel, Upson-Lee, Jr.
OF Kendal Robinson, Jones County, Soph.
P Breanna McLendon, Treutlen, Jr.
P Brianna Hancock, Houston County, Sr.
P Sloan Sibley, Stratford, Soph.
P Brittany Middleton, Rutland, Jr.
P Taylor Moore, Taylor County, Jr.
UTIL Taylor Fountain, Houston County, Sr.
UTIL Lexi Rouse, Stratford, Fr.
Baldwin — Mary Heath, Hagar Johnson, Akeya Palmer
Bleckley County — Marlee Bryan, Lana Maddox, Chelce Yearty
Brentwood — Samantha Southerland
Central Fellowship — Kristen Albright
Crawford County — Kady Ball, Mindy Powell, Alex Wood
Crisp Academy — Abbe Jolly
Dodge County — Adele Harrison, Jaye Hilliard
East Laurens — Chae Cephus
FPD — Caitlyn Bowman, Claire Crawford, Heather Langston, Rebekah Rabun
Fullington — Taylor Faircloth
Gatewood — Hannah Davis
GMC — Kaylee Johnson
Hawkinsville — Kimberly Carr, Jordan Conner
Howard — Melissa Gates, Ashlyn Rover
Jackson — Eboni Keith, Jasmine Smith
John Milledge — Stacey Couey
Jones County — Taylor Dupree, Morgan Jackson, Kaley Payne, Jesse Poss, Kendal Robinson
Mary Persons — Sarah Bennett, Asia Buckner, Lauren Camp, Robbie Grier, Taylor Penn
Monticello — Shelby Britt, Megan Studdard
Northside — Taylor Campbell, Bethany Horne, Brooke Red
Perry — Leah Daughtry, Ivey Johnson, Kaila Ransom, Savannah Ransom
Piedmont — Randi Small, Destiny Walker
Robert Toombs — Jenna Delk
Rutland — Miranda Rousey, Tiffany Sams
Spalding — Sara Hemphill, Emily Vaughn
Tattnall Square — Anna Dooley, Shelley Wolfe
Taylor County — Jessica Hand, Amber Moore, Casey Parker
Trinity Christian — Beth Criswell
Toombs County — Brianna Mincey
Treutlen — Marlesha Shivers
Vidalia — Seantca Brown, Leigh Taylor
Warner Robins — Maci Brown, Ashley Mahon
Washington County — Amber Antoine
West Laurens — Bethany Garner, Kayla Gay, Danielle Knight, Olivia Knight, Abi Leroy, Mallory Riner
Westfield — Ellen Grier, Katelyn McLean
Windsor — Maci Masterson