VALDESE — The bar was raised in the Draughn softball program after the four-year career of Kira Suttles around the plate, both in the batter’s box and at the catcher position.
As she also excelled again in volleyball and basketball, Suttles repeats as the Lady Wildcats female athlete of the year in 2018-19 along with receiving the school’s inaugural Under Armour Women of Will award.
“Having Kira as a teammate at Draughn has been great,” said junior Hailey Kincaid. “Winning is a big goal for her, and with that being said, her selfless actions often times help us get that result.”
Named the inaugural county softball co-player of the year, Suttles received many other accolades in her time at DHS including four News Herald Farm Bureau player of week awards, two softball All-Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference honors and all-district and all-state recognition by the N.C. Softball Coaches Association last spring.
Suttles also participated in the Powerade State Games for softball as a freshman and sophomore and has also played in both of the first two seasons for the Burke County Post 21 fastpitch softball team.
In the last four seasons, the Lady Wildcats softball team compiled a 62-30 mark, including 17-6 with a third-round trip in the 2A state playoffs this spring.
Suttles also set school records this year in career home runs (19) and home runs in a season (eight).
“Kira is a leader, a second coach on the field,” said Lady Wildcats softball coach Chris Cozort. “She leads by example and is the first person out of the dugout when one of her teammates does something good.”
Her favorite memories on the diamond were the two road upset state playoff victories: this spring as a No. 13 seed defeating fourth-seeded North Lincoln and a 2017 win at No. 3 seed Forbush while seeded 14th when Suttles was a sophomore.
“It was a good game with a lot of heart (vs. Forbush),” said Suttles. “I’m so beyond happy that I could help build the program and make some history along the way.”
Suttles added, “We always talk about building the program from when you get there to the time you graduate. I feel like me and my fellow seniors did that outstandingly well.”
Her career-best point total on the basketball hardwood was a 14-point performance as a sophomore vs. West Lincoln while having season-best totals this past winter of 11 points (vs. Avery), 10 rebounds (vs. W. Lincoln), four assists (vs. W. Lincoln) and four steals (Hibriten).
On the volleyball court, Suttles recorded season highs of nine kills (vs. East Burke), six blocks (vs. Hibriten, West Iredell) and five aces (vs. Freedom).
“As good of a player, Kira is an even better person,” said Cozort. “She volunteers to help coach younger athletes, she is strong in her faith, and always represents her family, team and school in a first class way.”
Suttles will be continuing her softball career at Pfeiffer University joined by her DHS pitching teammate Nataleigh Lail, the other county co-player of the year, while studying physical education.
“These four years have taught me so much, and I have grown tremendously as a person and an athlete,” Suttles said. “I’m so thankful that I am a Wildcat. I’m sad that I am leaving my favorite school, coaches and teammates but I’m so excited for what’s ahead.”
Jason Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.