Cedar Bluff’s Patterson, Baty pitch their way to the next level

Cedar Bluff seniors Natalie Baty (seated from left) and Reece Patterson (seated from right) celebrated signing their softball scholarships with Northwest Shoals Community College and Snead State Community College respectively on Tuesday at the Cedar Bluff School library. The duo is pictured with their softball teammates. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CEDAR BLUFF – One of Cedar Bluff’s strengths the past couple of softball seasons has been its depth at pitching. It’s helped them earn two straight Class 1A state softball tournament berths, and it should be one of their strengths once again with seniors Reece Patterson and Natalie Baty in the circle for the upcoming 2023 season.

Snead State and Northwest Shoals community colleges have taken notice of Patterson and Baty’s talents respectively. Both recently signed scholarships to pitch at the next level, which were celebrated at the Cedar Bluff School library on Tuesday afternoon.

The duo becomes head coach Garrett Crane’s first two softball scholarship signees.

“It’s not anything for me to claim. It’s the work they’ve put in,” Crane said. “It was going to happen regardless, but it is really unique and special to see them have the opportunity and to go watch them play at the next level.”

Patterson went 9-3 in the circle for Cedar Bluff (28-13-2) last season. She had a 1.66 ERA and only gave up 12 earned runs with 19 walks and 51 strikeouts. At the plate, Patterson posted a .500 batting average with 13 doubles, three triples, a home run, 17 walks, 33 runs, 48 RBIs.

Baty was 7-3 in the circle for the Lady Tigers last season. She compiled a 3.48 ERA with 31 earned runs, 22 walks and 46 strikeouts. At the plate, Baty batted .457 with 15 doubles, four home runs, 14 walks, 36 runs and 39 RBIs.

Both Patterson and Baty felt it was only fitting they celebrated their scholarship signings together.

“It’s just crazy to think we’ve both come so far so fast,” Patterson said. “I’m really proud of her and proud to be able to play with her. We push each other. We both know our strengths. We both know each other’s weaknesses. We know what we do best and we know how to help each other.”

“It means a lot because I’ve always played with and against Reece,” Baty said. “It’s something me and her have always wanted. We feed off each other a lot. We know what our limits are. If one of us is not there, the other one is definitely going to come in and help the other fix things.”

Crane realized early on what kind of players he had in both Patterson and Baty.

“Reece was an eighth grade the first time I coached her,” Crane said. “The whole first quarter of the JV season she was just blistering the ball and smoking it. There was no way she was striking out. Her approach at the plate is what’s so unique about her. The discipline that she holds is just uncanny. It’s second to none. She’s not going to strikeout. She’s going to be extremely tough at the plate. In the circle, it speaks for itself. She’s extremely consistent there.

“Natalie and I are cousins, so that’s even more special on that side of it as a family member. It’s such a blessing for her to come back to Cedar Bluff (from Gaylesville). She’s always been a competitor, a grinder. What sets her aside is her competitive nature. She hates losing.”

Both players described the day as bittersweet. They’re grateful to have secured their futures, but they’re sad to see their high school days coming to an end. They’re also both hoping to go out with a bang.

“We’ve still got another shot at having another awesome season, and I’m beyond excited to play again,” Patterson said. “I don’t have to worry about hanging my cleats up yet. I can have some more fun, but I’m really excited to pitch in college. I’ve worked so hard for that. For as long as I can remember I’ve pitched. I think with my spin I should be able to help them (Snead).”

“It really is bittersweet,” Baty said. “I really thought our senior year was going to go by slower than this, but we’re already halfway through it now and it’s about to be softball season again. I’m excited to move on, but at the same time, I’ve made such good friends here and I’ve learned so many things from the people here.”

Crane said both players have earned their respective opportunities to play at the next level.

“This is something they’ve both looked forward to since they were kids,” Crane said. “They’ve both grown up with a ball in their hands. The hard work they’ve put in and all the extra time, you see the results on the field. The countless hours that are put in outside of just what the action is between those seven innings of a ball game is what’s so special and unique about it. Not only are they great softball players but they’re phenomenal kids academically, in the classroom and at home. They’re truly role-model kids, and we’re proud to have them at Cedar Bluff.”

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