Despite a position change due to a volleyball injury, Ferrum College junior Cheyenne Strickland turned in her best season on the softball diamond in 2018.
Strickland, a 2015 graduate of Carroll County High School, played so well this season she was recently named to the All-East Division First Team in the USA South Athletic Conference. A shortstop all through high school and her first two seasons at Ferrum, Strickland moved to second base prior to this year after hurting her shoulder during volleyball season for the Panthers.
“I use my shoulder all the time for serving and hitting, and especially in volleyball, I was the main hitter. I was serving and setting and everything else,” the two-sport standout said. “It’s almost like my arm got tired and it was an easier throw for me to make (from second base). At first I was really nervous about it but I asked my coaches to go with me for extra individual practices because I knew if I switched I wanted to be good at it, so I would do extra practice on taking reps from second base. Once I did it was almost easier for me. It is the same amount of ground to cover (as shortstop) but I had more time to get my throw to first or throw to second.”
In the field, Strickland continued to play at an exceptional clip. If fact, she finished the season with a .953 fielding percentage, making just six errors in 127 chances. But it was at the plate where Strickland really lit it up in 2018. Strickland helped guide Ferrum to a 23-13 season after leading the team in just about every major offensive category, including batting average (.372), hits (45), RBIs (36), total bases (66) and slugging percentage (.545). She also tied for the team lead in home runs (4) and doubles (9) and was second on the squad in runs scored (23).
“I feel like where I was in the lineup (batting third) helped a lot. I hit better when there are runners on base,” Strickland said. “Last year I hit leadoff and as a freshman I was batting second and never had opportunities with runners on. Where we had a pretty consistent leadoff batter, she would get on most of the time and the second batter would move her over. It gave me really good opportunities to get her in and get base hits and better hits.”
As a freshman, Strickland was named MVP of the USA South Tournament after leading the Panthers to the conference tourney title. She had not made a conference team since, however, which was her main goal going into her junior campaign.
“I told my parents that is what I wanted, and as soon as they voted on it I was very anxious. I was looking up the stats of the other second basemen across the conference to see their standings,” she said. “It was nice to reach my goal. As a team, our record looked awesome this year, but us not making it further in the tournament was the downside. We were expecting to make it further than we did. It was good, but you are never satisfied until you get rings and win championships.”
Speaking of titles, Strickland will soon be one of a trio of former Carroll County players with rings. Fellow 2015 CCHS graduate Tiffanie Moore also had an excellent season for the Panthers, starting almost every game in left field in 2018. The duo will be joined in their senior year by incoming freshman Emily Cook, who also played on Carroll’s 2015 state championship softball team.
“It’s our senior year and being able to play with Emily one last time is going to be really nice,” Strickland said. “She came to a lot of our home games and we are excited for her and our coaches are excited to have her.”
In the meantime, Strickland is waiting to hear about another honor. With a 3.76 GPA in Liberal Arts, Strickland has been nominated as a candidate for Academic All-American. Her field of study focuses on elementary education as she is working to become a teacher. She will find out early in May if she makes the regional cut for Academic All-American, which would then put her in competition for the national honor.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN