Coffee County Central High School softball player Katie Rutledge is starting her senior year, but her playing career is far from over. The Lady Raider signed a letter of intent Wednesday morning to play for Mississippi's Blue Mountain College.
"It's a relief for me, because I've kind of wanted to do that since I started playing softball," Rutledge said. "This is great, I have something to look forward to."
An outfielder and pitcher, Rutledge has had a standout career at Coffee County. In 2018, Rutledge had a .414 batting average and scored 36 runs, including an inside-the-park home run.
Rutledge helped lead the Lady Raiders to an 8-4 district record and a Region 4-AAA title. Despite winning the region, the girls fell one game shy of an opportunity to play in the state tournament.
"Katie's been an exceptional player for this team," Coach Brandon McWhorter said. "She contributed from the moment she stepped on the field. Her leadership, her work ethic, her athletic ability is off the charts."
Rutledge began to attract the attention of college programs near the end of her sophomore year and beginning of her junior year. She didn't know much about Blue Mountain until the school began recruiting her earlier this year. First-year Lady Topper head coach Adam Kirkpatrick was impressed by how well-rounded she was.
"We think she's got a multiple type of skill set. She's a good leadoff hitter, she's also a good outfielder and a left-handed pitcher," Kirkpatrick said. "We're thinking that she'll make an impact in all three of those roles."
Rutledge was impressed by what Blue Mountain's coaching staff had to offer and how warmly she was received by the team when she came to campus. After two visits, including an overnight visit during the summer, Rutledge felt confident that this was where she wanted to play.
"We're just super, super proud of her," Rutledge's mother, Donna, said. "We've always known she could do it but when you actually see it happen it's a wonderful thing."
With her college plans finalized, Rutledge is ready to begin her senior season with the Lady Raiders and see how far the team can go.
"I'm really looking forward to it, we've got really good team players," Rutledge said. "I'm positive we can go to states if we work really hard."