Mount Pleasant's Taylor Miller may change positions from time to time, but she still keeps her place as one of the state's top high school softball players.
Miller has switched between outfield and infield on a yearly basis. One year after being named all-state honorable mention as a sophomore left fielder, Miller moved to third base and was named to the 2A all-state team as a junior.
For her senior season she's back at third base - at least for the time being - and trying to help the Tigers make the transition into the South Piedmont Conference and class 3A.
Miller was a third baseman when she switched between the junior varsity and varsity teams as a freshman. During her sophomore year, first-year Mount Pleasant coach Craig Carter said, he needed a sure-handed glove to solidify his outfield, and the best candidate was Miller.
She responded with a strong year defensively and batting .459 with 26 RBI and four home runs. Besides the all-state honorable mention, she was named all-conference in the Rocky River 1A/2A.
More confident with his outfield last year, Carter moved Miller back to her natural position, third base. She responded with an even better year at the plate, blasting 10 homers with 41 RBIs and a .544 average. She joined her teammate on the left side of the infield, shortstop Allison Starnes, on the all-state team.
Carter said Miller will play a lot of third base, but he also may play her in left field.
"She's just a softball player, an all-out softball player," Carter said. "She's dedicated to the game, she works hard, and she listens."
Mount Pleasant (26-3 overall in 2009) lost in the third round of the 2A state playoffs last year and returns a solid nucleus, including another all-state player, senior Jocelyn Parnell (10 HR, 55 RBI), who will split time between third bass and first base.
Pitcher Taylor Carpenter (25-3, 1.25 ERA, 180 Ks) and shortstop Georgia Parker (.619 BA, 9 HR, 42 RBI), both sophomores, and junior second baseman Lindsey Huneycutt (.410 BA, 44 runs) complement the group of senior leaders.
Central Cabarrus (12-8) should be one of several teams making the South Piedmont competitive. Seniors Lindsey Brown (SS, .436 BA, 22 SB) and Kayla Kindley (3B, .509 slugging), both all-state players in 4A last year, lead a group of eight returning starters.
Chelsea Hartsell, a four-year starting catcher who has signed with N.C. State, did not commit an error last season. She'll be catching all-conference sophomore Mellena Helms (two no-hitters, .349 BA). Senior second baseman Lindsey Mullis hit over .300 last year.
All-conference catcher/third baseman Taylor Allen leads a strong junior class that will help the rebuilding at Northwest Cabarrus (15-3). Expect consistent fielding from Leah Blakeley (Sr., OF/P), Brittany Broome (Sr., 1B), Michaela Boyd (Jr., OF), Andrea Jones (Jr., SS), and Lindsay Shore (Soph., 2B).
Concord (13-12) returns eight starters, including seniors Casey Shue (C) and all-state Carlie Bodder (1B), junior Shannon Arthur (SS) and sophomore Kristin Durant (P).
A host of players at Jay M. Robinson either have committed to colleges for next year or are being recruited, according to first-year coach James Allen. They are seniors Katie Zavodny (CF, Liberty University) and Camry Wagner (3B, UNC Wilmington), juniors Megan Crowe (OF), Hayley Lewis (OF/C), Alex Church (1B/OF) and sophomore Dallas King (P).
All-conference junior shortstop Zebresha Blakeney, a switch-hitting team leader in runs and stolen bases, is leading a minor surge at Kannapolis A.L. Brown (5-14). Senior Brittany Morgan is a four-year starting pitcher for the Wonders, and aggressive junior third baseman Ashley Larmand is a top power hitter.
The Faust sisters, Nikki and Amber, will make up the battery for Cox Mill's first-year team. Nikki, a left-handed pitcher, has great control and a variety of pitches. Amber, the catcher, calls a good game and has a strong arm. Fellow junior Katie Morris has good range for a middle infielder.
At Hickory Ridge (16-7), coach Jessica Furlough takes over a program that won the South Piedmont Conference title and advanced to the third round of the playoffs.
A young team at Jesse Carson High (8-12) will try to battle East Rowan and North Iredell in the North Piedmont 3A. Marissa Sellers (SS) and Kathryn Beaver (1B), both juniors, and pitchers Chloe Monroe (sophomore) and Megan Meismer (senior) will lead the Cougars.
All-state senior pitcher Taylor Dicken (.485 BA, 16 RBI, 92 K in 86 IP) leads an improved team at Cannon School (12-8) as it tries to climb the ranks of the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association (3A). Junior catcher Julie Harriss was also all-state last year, batting .413 and knocking in 19 runs. Sophomore SS/P Mackenzie Moyer had 16 RBI and 24 strikeouts in 15 IP on her way to all-conference.
First Assembly will be led by junior CF Hallie McNeill, the team's MVP last year. Versatile freshman Rylee Troutman will probably play most at shortstop, and classmate Allison Wallace will play 3B some and share pitching duties with freshman Ashlyn McCoy.