Meet the All-Observer softball team, the best high school players in the Charlotte area

Anna McGowan, who holds most batting single-season and career records at Marvin Ridge, has been named the Charlotte Observer’s softball player of the year for the 2024 season.

This season’s coach of the year honors also go to Union County — Weddington’s Claire Lyerly, who guided the Warriors to the state finals.

McGowan, an infielder and an N.C. State commit, batted .491 during her senior season, with 28 hits, 17 runs and seven doubles.

She graduates with the Marvin Ridge career records in batting average (.492); On-Base Plus Slugging, or OPS (1.557); hits (128); home runs (31); RBI (120); and fielding percentage (.981, with 376 plays).

McGowan also holds the school’s single-season record for batting average (.523 as a freshman), home runs (14, in 2023); RBI (47, also in 2023); and OPS (1.661, in 2022).

She won the player of the year award in a season loaded with excellent candidates.

Other standouts included catcher-infielder Anna Hinde of Charlotte Christian and pitcher Chloe Burger of S.C. 4A state champion Catawba Ridge.

Lyerly coached Weddington to the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s 4A championship series. The Warriors lost in three games to Garner.

Lyerly is a New York native who played collegiately at Wingate. Under her direction, Weddington finished 22-5 in this, the most successful of her 14 seasons as the Warriors’ head coach.

She is president of the N.C. Softball Coaches Association.

To be eligible for the team, players must be nominated by a coach.

Competition was extremely strong this year at pitcher.

Consider some of these pitchers who did not make any of the top three teams — the Southwestern 4A’s co-pitchers of the year, Maliyah Alexander (Independence) and Gigi Gervais (East Mecklenburg); all-state hurler Katie Muchesko (Gaston Christian); and Butler’s Ari Sawyers, who played on a U.S. national team last summer.

All-Observer softball team


First base

Kendra Murray, Catawba Ridge, junior: Murray batted .511, with eight home runs, 42 RBI and 45 hits for a state championship team. She also successfully stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.


Kaylee Harris, Lake Norman, junior: Harris batted .342, with eight doubles, 22 runs batted in, and 19 runs scored. While her batting average slipped a bit this season, she increased her totals in extra-base hits and RBI.

Madelyn Miller, Weddington, senior: Miller batted .407, with a 1.089 OPS, 21 runs and 26 RBI. She only struck out twice in 93 attempts and had an .893 fielding percentage.

Taniyah Thomas, East Lincoln, junior: Thomas batted .429 and now has a .493 career average with 101 hits.


Sarah Belk, Piedmont, junior: A first-team all-Observer pick last season, Belk batted .463 in the leadoff spot, with 43 hits, 37 runs and 21 stolen bases. She batted .515 in the playoffs, helping lead the Panthers to the 3A regional finals.

Jolie Matthews, Cannon School, junior: Matthews, a first-team selection last year, earned private school all-state honors by hitting .409, with seven doubles, 16 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Ella Tracy, Marvin Ridge, junior: Tracy, an Appalachian State commit, batted .422 with four homers and 17 RBI. She did not strike out in 61 at-bats and was an all-state selection as a sophomore (this season’s all-state picks have not been released).


Anna Hinde, Charlotte Christian, junior: A Florida State commit, Hinde earned all-state and all-America honors for the Knights. She has batted .570 in her Charlotte Christian career, including .571 this season. She is ranked by some scouting services as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2025.

Designated hitter

Avery Houseton, Covenant Day, sophomore: Houseton continued to be one of the area’s top power hitters, smacking six home runs and 16 doubles, with 34 RBI. She batted .541 and earned NCISAA all-state honors.


Chloe Burger, Catawba Ridge, senior: Burger compiled a 25-1 record as the Copperheads swept the S.C. 4A championship. She had 269 strikeouts in 157.1 innings, was named S.C. 4A player of the year, and is a USC Upstate commit.

Natalya Salo, Porter Ridge, senior: Salo, a Wofford commit, compiled a 1.64 earned run average and had 184 strikeouts, bringing her career total to 500-plus. She was named conference player of the year and swatted seven home runs at the plate.


First base: Barrett Williams, North Iredell, sophomore

Infield: Madison Glossner, Charlotte Catholic, sophomore; Ava Miller, Cherryville, junior; Ani Shuman, Concord, freshman

Outfield: Riley Griffin, Union Academy, senior; Tia Montgomery, South Mecklenburg, junior; Amelia White, Indian Land, junior

Catcher: Lexi Kirby, Marvin Ridge, junior

Designated hitter: Addison Crawford, Central Academy, junior

Pitchers: Maddie Sturgill, Cannon School, senior; Joella Thomas, Weddington, sophomore