Lake Normans all-state catcher has been playing out of position for the last three seasons.But senior Kayla McGuffey, a natural center fielder, doesnt mind. She just wants to give her Wildcats the best chance to win.Thats exactly the type of player she is, said Lake Norman coach Bob Hall, always doing whats best for the team.Despite playing outfield for her travel softball team, the Carolina Comets, and signing to play at Morehead State at that position, McGuffey didnt hesitate to gear up behind the plate for one final season.That shows the girls character, Hall said.McGuffey recalls how much of an adjustment it was to play catcher during her sophomore season, when she volunteered to fill the void left when her sister, Mariah, graduated.Despite being new to the position, McGuffey was quick to prove herself. She caught six runners stealing and allowed only four stolen bases.McGuffey doesnt take any credit for her success.My pitchers have helped me a lot, she said.At the plate, McGuffey had a breakthrough season her sophomore year, hitting .458 with 38 hits and 15 RBIs to earn all-state honors. She also stole a team-best 18 bases.McGuffey followed that up by hitting .481 along with 37 hits and 21 RBIS to lead the Wildcats last year. She stole another 18 bases on her way to again being named all-state.Her speed is amazing, said Hall. Thats what gets her a lot of hits. If she can put the ball on the ground, and it bounces a couple times, shes going to beat it out.McGuffey hopes to improve upon her all-state performances in her final high-school season. To make sure of that, she played year-round softball only taking the month of December off in addition to doing speed-and-agility training and going to the batting cage with her dad, Roger, several times a week, looking to improve her power.McGuffey, along with senior co-captains Dominique Wilson and Shelby Bailey, will need to have a strong year to help Lake Norman overcome losing seven seniors from last years 23-2 team, which won a second straight I-Meck regular-season championship.We try not to think about it, said McGuffey. We try to start fresh, see what we have and build from there.The Wildcats will feature four sophomores and two freshmen on its roster. McGuffey said the team has quickly bonded by practicing together as well as by having team dinners and movie nights.We gelled really well together, the 17-year-old said. We seemed to be good together on the field.Hall thinks the team has potential.Well be very competitive, said Hall. The senior leadership should go a long way to making us competitive. They expect to win.Thats because the senior captains have gone 74-8 during their four-year stints on the Wildcats varsity team.Theyre not really geared up to lose, said Hall.Wilson and Bailey have also been named all-state. Wilson, a pitcher who signed with N.C. Central, was all-state as a sophomore, while Bailey, an infielder, who signed with Transylvania (Ky.), received the honor last year.Lake Norman has a fourth senior, Jonna Vesse, who moves up from junior varsity and should contribute in the outfield.Hall hopes his younger players will step up this season. He said that returning sophomores Sydney Ditto and Jamie Pisel could play big roles for the Wildcats.Ditto, who plays center field, has good speed and a good bat, the coach said, while Pisel is a strong hitter who could be ready for a breakout year.McGuffey admits that its a different dynamic, being one of the older players on the team, but she wants to motivate her teammates to practice and play hard.I have high expectations from all of them, she said. And they have expectations from me and the other captains.McGuffey, whose Wildcats lost to eventual state champion Porter Ridge in the second round of the 4A playoffs last year, hopes her team will continue to come together and be at its best at the seasons end.Our goal is always to win the conference, and go onto states, get further than we ever had, said McGuffey.
Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013
Lake Norman softball's Kayla McGuffey thrives in adopted role
Returning all-state player Kayla McGuffey decided to play catcher for Lake Norman for a third straight year despite being a natural center fielder. The Morehead State signee hopes her unselfish decision will help theyoung Wildcats. SERGIO TOVAR - email@example.com
Other players to watch • Shelby Bailey, Lake Norman • Brittany Buckstad, LN Charter • Hollyn Franklin, N. Lincoln • Hannah Jones, Hough • Sarah Kenley, Lincoln Charter • Jayden Maddox, N. Lincoln • Katelyn Shifflett, Hough • Dominique Wilson, Lake Norman