Whenever the Jefferson County Lady Patriots needed her, Catelyn Riley was always there.
Riley took on the leader role of the Lady Patriots softball team and continued to raise the bar for her and her team through the 2021 season.
After racking up a number of accolades from the year she just had, Riley can now add the 2021 Citizen Tribune’s Lakeway Area’s Softball Player of the Year to her list of awards.
“I honestly never expected to get this award,” Riley said. “I am so grateful, though. It is an amazing feeling. I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates. They have helped me so much.”
Riley just finished her last season with Jefferson County and was the key part to lifting the Lady Patriots all season. Jefferson County swept through the district in the regular season with a 12-0 record and finished with an overall record of 18-8.
The undefeated District 2-AAA record locked up the regular-season title for Riley and her team but unfortunately, she saw her season come to a close in the region tournament against Tennessee High on the road.
Even though Riley didn’t get as far as she would have liked this past season, it was a senior year she said she would never forget.
“My senior year was full of memories,” Riley said. “I learned not to take the game for granted. I wanted to play every game as it was my last this year because that was something we learned as a team due to COVID. I thought we had a great run.”
The Ole Miss signee in Riley pitched a total of 131 innings in 2021 while striking out 235 hitters giving her a stunning earned run average of .481.
Although she is notoriously known for her pitching, her approach at the plate struck fear in pitchers. Riley finished the season hitting .567%, had an OPS of 1.965 and a slugging percentage of 1.284, all while hitting 11 home runs.
“I have focused and put in a lot of hard work that goes unnoticed by most people,” Riley said. “The hours I have put in have paid off on the mound. I have seen myself grow into a better hitter, too. I had to face some great pitchers to improve my hitting.
“There are a lot of things that go into softball. You really have to pay attention to the details of the defense when running bases and little stuff like that. I tried to be the best all-around player I could be.”
Riley also had 20 stolen bases in the season.
Jefferson County’s, now, former head coach Hillary Love has been with Riley since she was in the sixth grade. She has seen her develop into the Division I player she is today.
“She has always thrown the ball hard,” Love said. “She continued to improve year after year. This last year, she developed a rise-ball that was tough to hit. She has grown into a player that doesn’t only rely on her speed anymore but has learned to work and move the ball depending on the hitter she is facing. It’s been awesome to watch her grow.”
Love has seen Riley’s work ethic through the years and is getting to witness it first-hand as Riley prepares for her collegiate softball career.
The Citizen Tribune’s Lakeway Area’s Softball Player of the Year given to Riley was just another accomplishment for Love to be proud of.
“For Riley to win the player of the year is just a testimony to the hard work she puts in,” Love said. “I am so proud of her and the player she is. To see her grow and develop into the person and the player she is has been awesome.”
Riley was a part of the 2019 State Championship team while earning the District 2-AAA Player of the Year and a spot on the Class AAA All-State team as a sophomore. It was the year she truly cherished because it helped develop her into a better softball player.
And since she was not given a junior season due to COVID, her sophomore season became even more valuable to her as she blossomed into the Lady Patriots’ leader.
“I learned so much from the players that were before me and that helped lead the 2019 team,” she said. “I have applied everything I have learned from those players to my game. I embraced that sophomore season to help mold me into a leader for my team.”
There were many who noticed her leadership, too.
Riley also added the District 2-AAA Player of the Year award to her year and made the District 2-AAA All-Tournament Team. She made the Tennessee Coaches Association’s East Tennessee All-Star team, too.
That leadership ability helped her stand out but Riley said her team was the key factor in her success.
“I was always trying to be the best version of myself as I could possibly be this year,” she said. “I had to work on becoming a vocal leader. It was a little different for me but my team had my back. It was a fun year leading this team.”
She also mentioned the Jefferson County softball program put her on the right track for her success en route to winning the Citizen Tribune’s Lakeway Area’s Softball Player of the Year.
“The program at Jefferson County has meant so much to me,” Riley said. “My coaches and my teammates will never be forgotten. They have guided me to where I am now. I have been blessed to see this program grow and develop. I can’t wait to see that program to produce even more top talent.”