Leverette signs with Chattanooga State

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
At the signing last Wednesday at Forrest are front row from left, Lady Rockets’ head coach Shelby Stinnett, Kelli Wilhoite Burton, Katlin Leverette, and Clifton Burton. Back row from left are, Forrest assistant coach Ricky Stinnett and Chattanooga State Community College head coach Blythe Golden.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

When Kaitlin Leverette transferred from Unionville to Forrest in her freshman year she had some trepidation about changing schools, but there was absolutely no concern about joining a championship caliber Lady Rockets’ softball team.

“It was hard at first, transferring and not knowing anyone, but the school and the coaches here just made me a better person and a better player,” Leverette said.

All the hard work paid off for Leverette, who recently signed a Letter of Intent to attend Chattanooga State Community College next season on a softball scholarship.

“It’s awesome, I’m so excited,” Leverette said. “It’s definitely been a goal of mine since I was little and started playing, I always wanted to play at the next level.”

Leverette was already familiar with then assistant coach Shelby Stinnett, playing travel ball for the former Forrest star and current Lady Rockets’ head coach.

Leverette started her Forrest career with a solid freshman season, batting .408 with two home runs and 31 runs batted in.

As a sophomore, Leverette made even bigger strides, improving her batting average to .455 with two dingers and was second on the team with 38 RBI’s.

Kaitlin Leverette bashes a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning versus Gibbs in the first round of the 2018 TSSAA Spring Fling championships in Murfreesboro.

The Forrest leftfielder played in all 42 games last season, leading the team with 8 home runs and 61 RBI’s, second with 14 doubles and a hefty .795 slugging percentage, and third with a .434 batting average.

“We are super excited, for her to reach her goal means the world to me,” Stinnett said. “Kaitlin is a great student and I promote that number one to get it done in the classroom, so when you get on the field there are no worries.”

“She just has to hone her craft a little bit and have fun playing at the college level.”

Leverette gave much of the credit to her batting prowess to Forrest assistant and batting coach Ricky Stinnett, saying, “Without him I wouldn’t be here right now, so he is really the reason I am here right now.”

During her three years with Forrest, the Lady Rockets have compiled a gaudy 106-14 record with three district tiles, one region crown, and one state tournament title in two Spring Fling appearances.

Entering her senior season with Forrest, Leverette has one goal in mind and that is to help the Lady Rockets capture back-to-back state titles.

“It’s going to be difficult, but if we keep working hard and do what we do, I think we have a good chance of winning it again this year,” Leverette said.

Leverette will be teammates with former Forrest star pitcher Lauren Gillespie at Chattanooga State, which went 51-12 last season with a conference record of 31-3 and claimed the regular season Region VII Championship under Lady Tigers’ head coach Blythe Golden, the 2018 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year.

“It will make it a lot better knowing someone down there,” Leverette said.

Golden, who also won the Coach of the Year award in 2014 and 2017, is entering her seventh season as Lady Tigers head coach and has compiled a 280-80 record, helping 29 players sign National Letters of Intent with four-year colleges.

“We have actually been looking at Kaitlin a very long time and she has shown interest in us too,” Golden said. “We are very excited about her skill set and her talent, she has experienced a lot of success in her high school and the travel circuit and I think that has really built her confidence.”

“We have a lot of respect for the Forrest program and it is really important to us to bring people in who know how to win and compete in those competitive moments and we are looking for her to compete right away and be an everyday kid for us.”

Leverette currently sports a hefty 3.75 GPA and wants to study to be a dental hygienist and would like to transfer to a four-year school and keep playing softball.

Leverette had some advice for the younger players now at Forrest chasing their dreams, saying, “I would say hard work really pays off, so if you really have a goal, just work hard to get there and always do the right thing.”