06/12/05 — News-Argus Softball pitcher of the year -- Morgan Worthington

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News-Argus Softball pitcher of the year -- Morgan Worthington

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 12, 2005 2:06 AM

LAGRANGE -- As the stage got bigger, North Lenoir ace Morgan Worthington got better.

The right-handed pitcher, one of five seniors on the Hawks' 2005 Class 2-A state championship team, picked up two wins at the N.C. High School Athletic Association final four at Walnut Creek. She struck out 18 batters in two games, yielding only one run on seven hits.

In the championship game, Worthington finished with 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 shutout win over Pender.

On the season, she had a 19-1 mark with an earned run average well under 1.00. She yielded just 11 earned runs on the season and struck out over 200 batters.

For all these reasons, and her ability to help lead North Lenoir to its first state title in a women's program in school history, Worthington is the 2005 selection as the News-Argus pitcher of the year.

She had big shoes to fill on the mound for the Hawks.

Worthington replaced former ace Hermia Humphrey, now pitching for Pitt Community College, and some thought she and the rest of the Hawks wouldn't be able to get back to Walnut Creek after losing Humphrey.

Obviously, not true. The Hawks claimed another Eastern Plains Conference regular season crown, then won the conference tourney. By season's end, North Lenoir fashioned a 26-1 overall mark and will soon be sporting state championship rings.

"I'm not taking anything way from Hermia, because she was a great pitcher," Worthington said. "But, I've pitched in a lot of big games and been in a lot of battles myself."

Her coach and Hermia's sister, Heather Humphrey, was pleased with Worthington and her teammates' ability to zone out the critics.

"I think there were a lot of people, who said that about our team ... that we wouldn't get back," Humphrey said. "They counted us out, but she (Worthington) stepped up."

One might assume that Worthington would follow in Hermia Humphrey's footsteps and move on to play college softball. She will be a college athlete, but not on the softball diamond.

Worthington, also a standout tennis player at North Lenoir, will join the tennis program at Laurinburg's Saint Andrews College -- an NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference school.

"I think a lot of people expected me to go to school to play softball, but we had a new tennis coach here at North Lenoir this year (Courtney Harrell) and he got me really excited about tennis," Worthington said. "This is like a new challenge for me."

She is clearly pleased to end her softball-playing career on a high note.

"We've worked really hard. Not just the last four years, but the last 10 years because we all played travel ball together," Worthington said. "It feels good to know all that hard work paid off and we got the highest reward."