Turco, Chapman honored by Georgia Dugout Club
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
February 04, 2013 01:30 AM | 2308 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kennesaw Mountain softball coach Lisa Chapman and Pope coach Chris Turco headlined a list of local award winners recently announced by the Georgia Dugout Club at an award ceremony honoring coaches and players that took place at the Crown Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Rivinia.

Chapman was named the Class AAAAAA coach of the year along with Archer coach Kristopher Daniels, while Turco garnered Class AAAAA coach of the year accolades with Union Grove mentor Rod Pipkin.

Other award winners included the Lady Greyhounds’ Laura Beall, who was named Class AAAAA player of the year with the Lady Wolverines’ Megan Betsa, as well as the Lady Mustangs’ Malea Bell, who shared the honor with the Lady Tigers’ Kanani Cabrales.

Kennesaw Mountain assistant coaches Eric Blair and Jimmy Whittemore were selected the Class AAAAAA assistant coaches of the year.

Chapman, along with her assistants, guided the Lady Mustangs to their best season in school history. Kennesaw Mountain finished the year with a school-record 33 wins, won the Region 4AAAAAA championship and captured its first Class AAAAAA runner-up honor.

The Lady Mustangs did it by losing their first game in the state finals, but then winning four in a row through the consolation bracket before falling to state champion Archer.

“This is a great honor,” Chapman said. “The Dugout Club does a great job recognizing coaches and players from across the state. It’s a great time for us to get together and talk about the season and fellowship with one another. It’s a bonus to go, and receive an award on top of that makes it even more special.”

Chapman added a few words on her assistants, Blair and Whittemore, who helped her out during the season when she couldn’t be with the team.

“I had a busy year off the field and missed some games,” she said. “We couldn’t have done what we did without those guys. They work just as hard to prepare the girls and help and mentor them before every game. They’re outstanding men and I’m lucky to have them on my staff.”

Bell played a huge role in Kennesaw Mountain’s success. The Region 4AAAAAA and Marietta Daily Journal player of the year, Bell led the Lady Mustangs in batting average (.414), runs scored (49), RBIs (38), home runs (10) and hits from the lead-off position. A three-year starter, the junior has been a part of several successful Kennesaw Mountain teams and is verbally committed to play collegiately at the College of Charleston.

“Awards just push me to work harder for next year,” Bell said. “I don’t want to under achieve, so getting these honors as a junior means I just have to work as hard in the future.”

Turco’s Pope team won a school-record 28 games and captured its first region title — 7AAAAA — in school history. The Lady Greyhounds also advanced to the state finals, where they fell to Union Grove in two games, to earn their first Class AAAAA state runner-up award.

“This is such a huge honor and I put it right up there with my MDJ coach of the year award,” Turco said. “I couldn’t have done any of this without the support and help from my coaching staff and the players and parents and supporters of our program. It’s a great honor.”

Beall was a key component in Pope’s winning season. The senior catcher, who garnered Region 7AAAAA player and defensive player of the year accolades, led the Lady Greyhounds in batting average (.494) and had 26 RBIs, two home runs, and 15 runs scored.

“Our team worked so hard all season to make this year special,” Beall said. “To get these accolades is great, but I couldn’t have done any of it without any of my teammates.”
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