MURPHY – Haylie Shope will miss playing three sports in college.
Not as much as Hiwassee Dam will miss her.
Shope was named the NCHSAA female athlete of the year Thursday during a banquet in Chapel Hill. Statewide voting decided the award and Shope was nominated by her basketball coach, Ray Gutierrez.
“I wasn’t really expecting this,” Shope said.
“I was hoping to get it, of course. But it was just an honor to be a finalist.”
Where to start with Shope?
She has been named a Smoky Mountain Conference or Little Smoky Mountain Conference player of the year in basketball and volleyball as a junior and a senior.
And there is little doubt that Shope will repeat with some postseason honors in her best sport. The reigning SMC pitcher of the year has signed to play college softball for Kennesaw State (Ga.) She and the Eagles mercy-ruled Franklin, 12-2, on Wednesday to complete a 22-0 regular season.
The NCHSAA softball playoffs begin next week.
Shope has been averaging 1.75 strikeouts per inning and had a WNC-low ERA of 0.65 as of last week.
“It’s like I told her, this is a special recognition. It’s about the best award you can get,” Gutierrez said.
“But you still can’t put into words what she has meant to (Hiwassee Dam). A lot of people don’t realize that she scored more than 1,600 points and had more than 1,000 rebounds. And she didn’t play in the second half of probably half our games games throughout her career.”