Athlete of the Week: CF has bright future with Mackenna

At this time last year, Carolina Forest’s Cheyenne Mackenna was a quiet freshman who spent most of her time sitting in the Class 4A state runner-up Lady Panthers’ dugout.

But in this, her sophomore season, she blossomed into a key contributor for Carolina Forest, and the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her performance in the playoffs.

“I didn’t play much last year, but I worked hard over the summer and tried to show what I can do,” said Mackenna, who collected two hits and two RBIs in the Lady Panthers’ first two postseason wins. “I felt a lot more comfortable this year.”

A coaching change to newcomer Meagan Johnson may have helped Mackenna slide into the starting lineup, but it required a position switch. Alabama-bound senior Marisa Runyon was the team’s star at second base, forcing Mackenna to move to third to get playing time.

“I had played (third) before but second is my best position,” said Mackenna, who batted .382 with 11 RBIs and 21 runs scored this season. “But if it’s a matter of playing or sitting, I was willing to try it. It wasn’t always easy but I think I did OK. I hope to move to second next season.”

That’s just one of many goals Mackenna has on her high school to-do list. The Lady Panthers’ dream of returning to the state title series and bringing home the hardware this year came to a surprising end last week when Bluffton swept them in a district finals doubleheader.

“We all wanted to go back (to state), but I think we thought we had it in the bag,” Mackenna said of the Bluffton losses, which left Carolina Forest with a 23-3 final record. “We didn’t come out as up as we should have. I guess it was a learning experience. I want to go back and win it.”

Mackenna hopes to continue playing softball after high school but has two years left to lead Carolina Forest to the elusive state title. Despite the departure of Runyon, at least the Lady Panthers can rest easy knowing that second base is in good hands with Cheyenne.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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