HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Blanton retires at Hibriten, former player to replace him

Published Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

Coach exiting after 17 seasons, conference title in his final year

 

MORTON’S RESUME
A look at the resume of Brittany Morton, a former Hibriten softball star who will be the school’s new head softball coach this season:
— Graduated from Hibriten in 2016 after also lettering in volleyball three times, basketball four times and softball four times.
— All-Caldwell County, all-district and all-state selection all four years in softball, and all-conference three times. She was a district, conference and county player of the year in 2016.
— Offensive player of the year in softball at Hibriten in 2013 and 2014, team MVP in 2015, 2016.
— Played four years of softball at Salem College, graduating in 2020. Made the 2018 USA South all-tournament team and finished college career with .436 batting average with 120 hits, 80 runs scored, 26 doubles and 70 RBIs.
She ranks in the top 10 in 13 career hitting categories at Salem College.

By CHRIS HOBBS

HobbsDailyReport.com

LENOIR – Hibriten High announced a change in girls’ varsity softball head coaches on Wednesday.

In a press release, athletic director Derek Reeves said Jim Blanton has resigned after 17 seasons, effective immediately, and the new Panthers head coach is former player Brittany Morton.

Morton teaches match at Hibriten, where she played softball. She also played softball at Salem College, and she is also the Panthers’ junior varsity volleyball head coach.

“I am truly honored to take over the softball program for Hibriten High School,” Morton said in the press release. “I am ready to be back at Hibriten and help improve the program each and every day.

“I can’t wait to work with each of these young ladies and help them grow as players and individuals on and off the field.”

Hibriten went 15-1 last season, falling in the second round of the state 2A playoffs to West Stanly, and won a Northwestern Foothill 2A title (14-0) by finishing four games in front of Bunker Hill and Fred T. Foard.

Blanton is retiring.

“Hibriten softball will forever hold a special place in my heart, but I feel now is the time to allow for young, new, energetic coaches to take the program to new heights,” Blanton said in the press release (see all of his comments below).

“I am confident that our new head coach will bring new outstanding energy and ideas to the program. I will continue to support the program and our new coach in any way that I can.

“I know that the softball team will be in the best hands possible and will continue to grow and reach even higher heights.”

Reeves, also in the press release, said: “Coach Blanton has brought nothing short of success, discipline, and hard work to our program and made our softball program respected and a competitive contender each and every season.

“We are thankful for Coach Blanton’s time and dedication to our ladies and all the impacts he made in their lives…

“We are excited about the level and direction Coach Morton will take our program too! It is rewarding to have one of our very own coming back to coach for our program.

COACH BLANTON’S FULL COMMENTS

“For the last 17 years I have had the wonderful honor and privilege of being the Hibriten Women’s Softball Coach.

“After much prayer, pondering, consideration, and many discussions with many friends and family, I have decided to retire as the Coach of the Hibriten Softball Team.

“During my tenure as the coach of Hibriten Softball, I have been blessed to coach the most amazing young ladies anyone could ever coach.

“I personally wasn’t blessed with my own daughters but loved each and every one of the girls as my own.

“Over the years we have had many successes on the field and off the field.

“Many of our players have gone on and played at the collegiate level and done very well. A lot of them have gone on to college and become very successful in many different fields. Some have joined the military and are proudly serving our country. Many have become wonderful mothers and wives, and nothing makes me prouder as their Coach.

“I was also blessed to have coached with some of the greatest men and women anyone could have ever asked for. Over the years there were many who stood beside me as the coach to this team.

“Coach Michael McEllen has been with me every step of the way throughout all 17 years, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

“Coach Steve Hobbs, who was my baseball coach in high school, has also spent many years side by side with me and Coach Mac. David Pope, Rick Benfield, Willie Crowe, Maggie Sime, Jennings Vess, Chelse Rector, and Brittany Morton have all been wonderful assistant coaches along the way.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help and dedication of these amazing people. I would also like to thank the many, many parents who gave of their time and money to help turn our softball field into what it is today. Without them being the driving force and the manual labor for many of the projects, we wouldn’t have the field as we have it today.

“I would also like to thank Kelly Bryant for being the first fast-pitch softball coach in school history and for getting the ball rolling and always supporting me.

“Last but not least, I would like to thank my wonderful wife Rachel and my two sons Ammon and Aaron for allowing me to be away from home for so many hours each day for 17 years. There is no way I could have done this without their support, encouragement, and huge sacrifices.

“Hibriten softball will forever hold a special place in my heart, but I feel now is the time to allow for young, new, energetic coaches to take the program to new heights.

“I am confident that our new head coach will bring new outstanding energy and ideas to the program. I will continue to support the program and our new coach in any way that I can.

“I know that the softball team will be in the best hands possible and will continue to grow and reach even higher heights.”

 

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