There's a youth movement in this year's finalists for the Scrappy Moore Female Athlete of the Year award. Three sensational sophomores make up half the list, joining three highly accomplished seniors as finalists for the award, which will be announced at Thursday's Best of Preps banquet.
The sophomores are East Hamilton's Madison Hayes, Gordon Lee's Gracie O'Neal and Baylor's Makayla Packer, along with seniors Maddox Bandy of Girls Preparatory School, Rhyne Howard of Bradley Central and Ashley Rogers representing Meigs County.
The banquet is at 6 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota as the guest speaker. For information on the event or tickets, visit bestofprepschatt.com.
Bandy is a Lipscomb University tennis signee who is ranked as the seventh-best senior player in the state. She added a Division II-AA state singles championship this spring to go with two previous doubles crowns.
Hayes averaged 18.5 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.2 steals per game, was named MVP of three tournaments and helped the Lady Hurricanes reach the state basketball sectional round for the first time in program history. She also had 227 kills, 163 digs, 52 aces, 22 assists and 17 blocks to lead the volleyball team to the Class AA state tournament.
Howard is a University of Kentucky basketball signee, Gatorade state player of the year and Class AAA Miss Basketball award winner who averaged 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 5.2 steals per game to lead the Bearettes to the state tournament semifinals.
O'Neal won Georgia Class A state titles in the 800- and 1600-meter runs, setting program records in both events. She also won the state cross country championship last fall with a time of 20:23.83, after having won the region meet and the Ridge Ferry Invitational with a personal-best time of 18:19.
Packer is another dual-sport star on the rise. She set program records while winning Division II-AA state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and was part of the first-place 4x200 relay team that also set a program record. She accomplished all that while also starting on Baylor's state championship softball team.
Rogers is a University of Tennessee softball signee and Gatorade state player of the pear who went 29-2 with a 0.20 earned run average and 398 strikeouts in 174 innings pitched to help the Lady Tigers claim the Class AA state title. Meigs had won the Class A title the previous two seasons. Rogers also had a strikeouts-to-walk ratio of 66-to-1 and hit .463 with eight home runs.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.