Jefferson County pitcher Catelyn Riley was true to her word.
Riley planted a bug in the ear of Lady Patriots coach Hillary Love way back when.
“I told her (Love) when I was in middle school that I was going to get her a state championship,” recounted Riley with a laugh.
Riley, who has been coached by Love since she was in the sixth grade, delivered on her long-ago promise on May 24 in Murfreesboro when she pitched Jefferson County past Siegel in the state Class AAA softball championship.
“I’m still really excited,” said Riley. “We just fought harder than a lot of teams. We have a lot of grit.”
The sophomore whiz handcuffed the Lady Stars on three hits in a 3-0 victory.
For Riley, the 5Star Preps Pitcher of the Year in the area, it was a culmination of a state tournament to remember.
In four state tournament victories she held Halls, Dyer County and Siegel (twice) to a combined two runs in 28 innings.
Love said Riley is just beginning to touch the surface of her potential.
“I really don’t think there is one (a ceiling) for her,” said Love.
“She has got the build and all the tools to be something special.”
Riley’s final numbers for the season included a 24-9 record (2.32 ERA) with 277 strikeouts in 215.2 innings.
She was plenty good during the regular season.
She was dominant come tournament time.
“She is such a competitor,” said Love
“With her competitive nature she’s not going to quit.”
That was never more apparent than during the final day of the state tournament.
After getting blasted 10-1 by Siegel, Riley and Jefferson County regrouped for the 3-0 win in the championship game against the Lady Stars.
“Going in (to the championship game), we wanted this and said ‘we’re not going to settle (for second). She was going up against Division I signees and she’s a sophomore. That’s huge.”
Riley said she learned much as she made the transition from her freshman to sophomore year this season.
“It (pitching) is more mental than physical any day of the week,” said Riley.
“My coaches have helped me grow so much. It’s about accepting myself as who I am, and not trying to be anything else. I learned how to control what I can control, and it was about trusting and working with our defense day in and day out at practice.”
Love said assistant coach Whitney Leon, who was a star pitcher on Jefferson County’s 2010 state tournament team, has been a big help with Riley.
“Whitney has been a huge asset,” said Love.
“She understands the game and has done an awesome job (with Riley).”
With two more years to go, Love said Riley could leave an almost unmatched legacy if she continues on her current trajectory.
“She’s probably throwing 64 or 65 (mph) and she works the plate so well,” Love explained.
“I see her continuing to grow mentally for this game. Whatever this kid wants she is gonna get.”