Smyrna's Makenzie Prince named state's Gatorade Player of the Year

Smyrna's Makenzie Prince named state's Gatorade Player of the Year

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Smyrna's Makenzie Prince named state's Gatorade Player of the Year

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SMYRNA

Smyrna High’s memorable softball season added to its history on Thursday.

Smyrna ace pitcher Makenzie Prince was named the state’s 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year, becoming the first softball player from Rutherford County to receive the honor.

“It’s a tremendous honor and it brings a lot of attention to the program, our school and this district,” Smyrna High softball coach Luke Sheppard said. “To be honored with this award says a lot about softball in this area.”

Prince, who is a rising senior, was a key catalyst behind Smyrna’s history-making 2013 season that culminated in the program’s first Class AAA softball state title in school history. Prince finished 36-6 with a 0.89 ERA in 252 13 innings pitched. She struck out 370 batters while allowing just 85 walks. She gave up just one home run all season.

Prince and the Lady Bulldogs did not lose a game in the month of May and mowed through the softball field during last month’s TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling Class AAA state tournament, beating Dickson County 6-3 in the state championship.

She hit .399 for the season with a team-high five home runs with 11 doubles and 31 RBIs.

Prince was shocked when contacted by Sheppard about the award. She was working on her hitting in preparation of a travel ball tournament when the phone call came from Sheppard.

“I really don’t know what to say,” said Prince, who joins former baseball standout Sonny Gray as the only Smyrna athletes to be honored as a Gatorade Athlete of the Year. “It’s a huge award. To get this award means more than words. It’s special. Sonny Gray is the only other person from Smyrna to get it. Now, he’s in the major league.

“That is crazy.”

The Gatorade award recognizes not only success on the field, but also places high standards on academics and exemplary character on and off the field. She is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Prince was quick to acknowledge her teammates and the key part they played in allowing her to have such a dominating season in the pitcher’s circle.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been in the running for it,” she said. “They helped give me a winning record. They helped give the school that too.

“They helped set me up for a lot of awards, and it’s because of them as well. We did it together.”

Prince was named The Daily News Journal’s 2013 Softball Pitcher of the Year last month.

Prince has a 3.91 GPA and is a member of DECA, MuAlpha Theta mathematics honor society, the National Beta Club and FCA and has been a volunteer tutor.

She’s also been a youth softball instructor.

“When you think of an athlete you want to represent you, Makenzie Prince is the epitome,” said former Blackman coach Tory Atwood in a press release. Atwood will be the Stewarts Creek coach in the fall. “She is an amazing pitcher that has a ridiculous work ethic.

“She has to be told multiple times to stop pitching, because she will not stop until every pitch is perfect.”

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