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Athlete of the week: Satterfield a force on the pitcher's circle
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White County softball coach John Brown discusses the performance of Lady Warriors pitcher Stephanie Satterfield.

When the White County High softball team takes the field, opponents can expect to encounter Stephanie Satterfield, one of Region 7-AAA’s top pitchers.

They may also expect to be back in the dugout as fast as they left it when she is in the circle.

Satterfield struck out eight hitters while going 3-for-3 at the plate against Gainesville last Tuesday, then followed up the performance with a seven-strikeout two-hitter against Flowery Branch on Thursday.

The sophomore lefty now has a 17-3 record with a 0.75 ERA and 144 strikeouts for the Lady Warriors (20-5, 9-2 Region 7-AAA) this season.

“It’s been a really good season,” Satterfield said. “I think we’ll play well the rest of the season.”

For White County, the rest of the season includes the region tournament, which begins with a play-in game against Johnson on Monday. Should the Lady Warriors beat the Knights, they have a spot in the region tournament, and will also tie the school record for most wins in a season with 21.

“We’re going into the tournament as a fifth seed, but we feel our chances are good,” Satterfield said. “I’m going to have to play harder than I usually play.”

But her goal before she graduates in 2011 stretches far beyond the region tournament and into Columbus, where the state softball tournament finals are held.

“My goal is to go to Columbus and win a state title,” she said.

Before Satterfield can set her sights on a state title, she has to lead White County through region opponents for another two years. But the two-year starter for the Lady Warriors doesn’t have any other plans in the way.

With softball being the only sport she plays, Satterfield commits to it all year long, playing travel softball in the offseason with a team based out of Habersham County. She has traveled as far as Panama City, Fla., for games, but mostly plays Georgia-based teams in Atlanta.

“There are a lot of tough opponents in travel ball,” Satterfield said. “They prepare me for high school games.”

The preparation has guided her in the right direction. In 121 innings pitched this season, Satterfield is averaging more than one strikeout per inning and has only 18 walks.

“She’s our go-to pitcher,” White County coach John Brown said. “We’re very fortunate to have her on the circle. She loves to win.”

The secret to Satterfield’s success has been her control and a strong relationship with her catcher, Krista Woody. Her strikeout pitch is her screwball, which breaks away from right-handed batters. She also uses a changeup, a curveball, and a fastball that tops out at 55 miles per hour.

“She has consistency and control,” Brown said. “Most of the time she throws it where she wants it. She doesn’t walk many people.”

But Satterfield’s heroics this season haven’t stayed within the pitcher’s circle. She has also become a dangerous hitter in the top of the Lady Warriors’ lineup, batting .465 with seven extra-base hits and a team-high 33 runs scored.

“She has really stepped up as a hitter,” Brown said. “She can find the gap every so often.”

Recently, her role as a hitter became more important when she was promoted from No. 2 in the lineup to lead-off hitter when the usual lead-off hitter, Emma Cummins, was injured last week.

“As the lead-off hitter, I’m just trying to get on base,” she said.

With important roles on both offense and defense, Satterfield has also taken on the role of being a team leader. Although only a sophomore, she has become a “leader by example,” according to Brown, on a young team that only has four seniors.

“She keeps the team lively,” Brown said. “She does everything the best she can.”

But Satterfield has looked right back to her teammates for a helping hand as the Lady Warriors prepare for the region tournament.

“I wouldn’t be anything without them,” she said.

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