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MCKENZIE WALKER: The Covington News' 2017 softball Player of the Year
McKenzie Walker's success as Eastside's lone senior, leading a group of talented yet inexperienced freshmen, sophomores and juniors to Columbus helped set her apart from a group of talented candidates for Player of the Year. - photo by Gabriel Stovall

Walker’s Rundown:

Position: Shortstop

Batting Average: .476 

Slugging Percentage: .720 

RBIs: 21, which was good for second in the region. 

Stolen Bases: 14.

Homeruns: 2. 

Others Considered: Britney Ellis (Newton), Jessica Owens (Social Circle)

As talented as the underclassmen are for the Lady Eagles, it’s doubtful that Eastside would’ve seen the success it saw and reached Columbus without Walker’s leadership. As the team’s only senior, she was not only had a calming affect on the team, but she helped provide priceless wisdom on the kind of maturity it took to play in and win big games. Beyond the intangibles, Walker was one of the most effective hitters on the team, which is coach Heather Wood inserted her as lead-off hitter down the stretch of the season. 

In our Q&A with Walker, she talks about her career highlights, what being the only senior on a young but talented team was like and what she’s looking forward to after high school graduation.

 The Covington News: As the only senior on your team, what was the most rewarding thing about all that you accomplished this year? 

McKenzie Walker: “One of the most rewarding things is the fact that we made it to Columbus. Regardless of how good we did, I’m very proud of my team for making it as far as we did. But the most rewarding is just teaching my teammates all I know about the game and helping them advance as players.” 

TCN: After four years of hard work on the field, how gratifying is it for you to start receiving some of the postseason recognition you’re getting now? 

Walker: “I wouldn’t really call it work. Now that I look back on it, I wouldn’t give up the late night practices or early morning work outs for anything. And it’s a privilege to be recognized, although that’s not the reason I played. I’m still thankful for all the articles and receiving the honor of being player of the year.” 

TCN: What has been the best part of your senior season? What has been the hardest part of your high school career?

Walker: “The best part is probably getting to experience going to State. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And the team I got to experience, it made it just that much better. Looking back, the hardest part of my career was probably the end of my junior season because all the seniors that graduated were some of my best friends and I didn’t know how I would feel playing without them. But I grew closer to my team this season and they turned a season that I was dreading into one of the best seasons of my career.” 

TCN: As the lone senior, what would be your “final message” of encouragement to those returning next year, and how good do you see this team becoming?” 

Walker: “My message would be to not take a single second for granted. Play every game like it’s your last, and soak it all in. Don’t get too caught up in any errors you make or how many strike outs you have, because that’s not what you’re going to remember. You’re going to remember your teammates and all the long lasting memories you make with them on and off the field. As for how good they’re going to be, they have huge potential to do great things, and I hope they live up to it. They will always have a fan in me for sure.” 

TCN: What will you remember most about this Columbus season? And what are your college plans?

Walker: “What I will remember most about this season is how close we grew as a team. How well we came together and showed everyone that this year was everything but a rebuilding season. We had to work hard to get where we did and I’m beyond proud of every member of my team and coaching staff. As for after college, I plan to attend Georgia Southern University, and although I don’t plan to play softball in college, I will never forget my experiences as a player and a teammate.”