Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
alert top story

Meet the 2022 All-Metro softball team, led by Hanover pitcher and UVA recruit Julia Cuozzo

  • 0

Her parents, her sister, her pitching coach and her team -- those are the pillars of success for Hanover pitcher and 2022 All-Metro softball player of the year Julia Cuozzo. 

The UVA recruit, a junior, started playing softball with younger sister Abby when Julia was 9. Mother Katie played at Chesterfield Little League in her youth. So upon realizing an inability to do the splits was a bit of a deal breaker for her gymnastics career, Julia Cuozzo picked up a softball with her sister, and never looked back.

Fast forward roughly eight years, and Cuozzo earned Class 4 player of the year honors while leading her Hawks to a 23-1 record and the program's first state championship since 2006. 

Cuozzo is the first All-Metro softball player of the year from a storied Hanover program since three different Hawks won the award in four consecutive seasons from 2005-08 (Julie Smith twice, Lauren Brummell, Courtney Long).

She finished the season 19-1 with a 0.85 ERA, 181 strikeouts and five no-hitters. Also a clutch hitter for the Hawks, Cuozzo batted .367 with five home runs and 25 RBIs, and drove in the winning runs in the state semifinal and title games.

The roots of Hanover's championship run can be found in past defeats, Cuozzo said -- the Hawks were undefeated in 2021 before losing their first game in the state championship, then began this past season with a 7-0 loss to Midlothian.

"We learned what it was like to lose, which was different from last year. We didn't know how to handle it," Cuozzo said. 

"This year, we were like, 'We're never doing that again, we can't.' We didn't like that feeling. It was much easier for us to bounce back after losing our first game."

Abby is Julia's biggest supporter, she said, alongside Katie. Both sister and mother come to all of her games and have proven vocal cheerleaders. And father Vincent is Julia's steadfast catcher.

But perhaps most important to her development on the field has been pitching coach Jackie Magill, whom Cuozzo said understands her intrinsically, always in tune with what she needs to focus on in her training. 

"I wouldn't be here without her," Cuozzo said of Magill, whom she's worked with for six years. 

“She always knows what I need to work on without me saying it. She’s always the first to text me after games, telling me what I need to work on. She gives great intel, sends me articles to read so I can be the best at what I do. She’s been very supportive through everything.”

Also vital to Cuozzo's success in the circle has been Hawks catcher and fellow first team all-state and All-Metro honoree Jenna Currie, Cuozzo's battery mate dating to middle school.

“She’s amazing. There’s nobody I would trust more behind the plate," Cuozzo said of Currie.

In the circle, Cuozzo features a fastball, drop ball and changeup. The drop is her go-to out pitch, bedeviling hitters to consistently generate swings-and-misses as well as groundball outs.

Converting her athletic prowess into a college scholarship has always been a central motivation for Cuozzo's development. And Virginia has always been a leading destination for the Hawks hurler since Cavaliers coach Joanna Hardin showed an interest in recruiting Cuozzo early on in her travel ball career.

Cuozzo, who committed in Sept., 2021, will join former Manchester pitcher Molly Grube (2019) as All-Metro players of the year on the Wahoos' roster.

Her favorite classes in school are related to health sciences, like nursing. That's what she plans to study in Charlottesville with the goal of a career in medicine. She also works at a daycare and enjoys working with children "when they're good," she quipped.

Of the state title game, a 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Tuscarora in which Cuozzo lauded the team defense behind her, she said lessons learned from their 2021 defeat helped her Hawks focus in and stay calm.

After all, she had everything she needed right there with her -- her parents, her sister, her pitching coach and her team. 

“I just had to treat it like every other game, pitch the same, don’t overthink it and just don’t have the same outcome as last year, that was my mindset," she said.

"We all kept it together throughout the game, took our deep breaths so we didn't get nervous because it was 0-0 for a long time and that was nerve-racking. But we did it, and that was amazing for everybody.”

MEET THE REST OF THE FIRST TEAM

Cassie Grizzard

School: Midlothian

Position: Pitcher

Year: Senior

About: A first team all-state honoree, Region 5C player of the year and Louisville signee, Grizzard struck out 194 hitters over 110 innings and posted a 1.65 ERA while holding batters to a .176 average. The fiery left-hander's season included a handful of dominant outings against some of the area's top programs and bats -- she struck out 17 Hawks and allowed just one hit in a 7-0 victory over Hanover, the Class 4 champs' only loss of the season, and posted double-digits Ks in wins over Powhatan, Godwin and Clover Hill. Also a force at the plate, Grizzard hit .470 and drove in 21 runs. 

Morgan Berg

School: New Kent

Position: Pitcher

Year: Junior

About: Berg posted a 13-0 record and 1.19 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 82 innings. She was at her best when it mattered most, tossing back-to-back shutouts in the state semis and title game, including a career-high 10 strikeouts in the championship. Also a .397 hitter, she's got pop at the plate with a team-high six home runs and 39 RBIs. Her season was a product of perseverance after Berg recovered from a fractured L5 vertebra in February of 2021. 

Kam Brown

School: Cosby

Position: Pitcher

Year: Freshman

About: The Titans lost 2021 All-Metro player of the year Taylor Norton to Villanova and hardly skipped a beat with Brown replacing her in the circle. The first team all-state honoree went 16-7 with 125 strikeouts and a 2.22 ERA over 141 innings while holding hitters to a .205 average. Brown also hit .315 with 19 RBIs. 

Madalyn Johnson

School: Powhatan

Position: Pitcher

Year: Sophomore

About: Johnson constantly overpowered hitters up in the zone to the tune of 214 strikeouts over 135 1/3 innings and a 0.716 ERA as the Indians' workhorse in the circle. She went 12-6, tossed 15 complete games and logged a .991 fielding percentage. Also a strong hitter, Johnson batted .371 and drove in 16 runs. 

Maggie Hiatt

School: Mills Godwin

Position: Infield

Year: Junior

About: The heart of the Region 5C champions' order, Hiatt hit .406 with seven doubles, eight home runs, 31 RBIs and a 1.367 OPS. Defensively, she posted 27 putouts and 21 assists in 51 chances at the hot corner (.941 fielding percentage). Eagles coach Keith Wagner said Hiatt's arm is as strong as he's seen in 40 years of coaching, and called her a humble, confident leader, always the first on the field and the last off of it.

Ellie Talley

School: Cosby

Position: Infield

Year: Sophomore 

About: The Titans shortstop posted a .965 fielding percentage and proved a force at the plate, hitting .438 with four home runs, 19 RBIs and 30 runs scored. Talley also slugged .775, had a 1.252 OPS and caught fire in postseason play, hitting .476 with a 1.427 OPS in playoff games for the Class 6 runners-up. 

Mia Woolfolk

School: Manchester

Position: Infield

Year: Sophomore

About: There seems to be little Woolfolk, also a first team All-Metro basketball player and dominant post presence, can't do. The Lancers power-hitting first baseman was a first team all-state honoree and hit .508 with eight home runs, 31 RBIs, 28 runs scored and a staggering 1.015 slugging percentage. She's also a talented painter who enjoys depicting nature in her work.

Olivia Golliday

School: Trinity Episcopal

Position: Infield

Year: Sophomore

About: A first team all-VISAA first baseman for the LIS runners-up Titans (16-6), Golliday hit .638 with 26 RBIs, 13 doubles, 35 runs scored, a 1.601 OPS and 16 stolen bases. She also posted a .986 fielding percentage. Trinity coach Christy Darlington called Golliday a "complete team player and quiet leader," adding that she was the Titans' keystone defensively and anchor of the batting order from the three-spot. 

McKenna Mueller

School: New Kent

Position: Utility

Year: Senior

About: Also a standout volleyball and basketball player, Mueller concluded a stellar all-around athletic career at New Kent by leading the Trojans to the Class 3 title and earning state player of the year honors. She hit .488 with eight doubles, three triples and three home runs, drove in 32 runs and led the team with 40 runs scored while fielding .956% in center field. The New Kent High senior athlete of the year will attend Bridgewater College to continue playing softball. 

Carsen Sanders

School: Atlee

Position: Utility

Year: Senior

About: The team player of the year for coach Tom McIntyre's always strong Raiders program, Sanders pitched 107.1 innings, struck out 155 hitters and posted a 1.109 ERA. A James Madison recruit, she also hit .302 and drove in 13 runs. McIntyre said Sanders is "unwavering in her approach and effort" and gave his team a chance to win every game.

Jenna Currie

School: Hanover

Position: Catcher

Year: Senior

About: Cuozzo's battery mate was a first team all-state honoree behind the plate and is committed to play college softball at Saint Joseph's University. Currie was also a key contributor at the plate for the 23-1 state champs, hitting .355 with four home runs and 24 RBIs. 

Sydney Shaffer

School: Mills Godwin

Position: Catcher

Year: Senior

About: A University of Delaware recruit, Shaffer was a first team all-state awardee who led the Eagles to a region title with "stellar defense and competitive fire behind the plate," said coach Keith Wagner. Also a clutch hitter, Shaffer batted .431 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs and 26 runs scored. She only allowed seven passed balls in 147 1/3 innings, and caught 10 runners in 38 stolen base attempts. 

Alyssa Thompson

School: Clover Hill

Position: Outfield

Year: Sophomore

About: A second team all-state honoree, Thompson hit .326 and drove in 18 runs as part of a talented Cavaliers outfield that also included twin sister Addison and led Clover Hill to an 18-5 record and state tournament appearance. Cavaliers coach Lacey Sullivan said the sisters "have incredible drive and commitment to the game and to their team." 

Emma Slutzah

School: Hanover

Position: Outfield

Year: Sophomore

About: The first team all-state honoree struck out just three times all season and was part of a fearsome Hawks outfield that also included second team all-state and all-metro Randolph-Macon recruit Reagan Hill and talented freshman Kaileigh Byars. Slutzah hit .433 with three home runs, 27 RBIs and a 1.233 OPS. 

Norah Murray

School: New Kent

Position: Outfield

Year: Senior

About: The first team all-state honoree did not make an error all season in left field, tied Mueller for the team lead in hits with 42 while batting .452 from the leadoff spot, and had nine triples, 18 RBIs, 33 runs scored and a team-high seven stolen bases. A team captain, Murray found another level in the postseason, hitting .650 (20 ABs) with five triples, six RBIs and seven runs scored in six playoff games.  

SECOND TEAM

Position Name School  Year
 P Viana McKinley Monacan Jr.
 P Angelina Branch Clover Hill Jr.
 P Katelyn Hubley Mills Godwin Fr.
 C Morgan Tucker Dinwiddie Soph.
 INF Brooke Powell Manchester Sr.
 INF Jessica Purgason Cosby Jr.
 INF Ellie Herndon Midlothian Sr.
 INF Emma Fredenburg Mills Godwin Sr.
 INF Sydney Tyler Douglas Freeman Sr.
 Util. Mykhl Young Hermitage Soph.
 Util. Hannah Tober New Kent Fr.
 OF Ellie Mulligan Midlothian Jr.
 OF Caroline Tilley Atlee Sr.
 OF Reagan Hill Hanover Sr. 

HONORABLE MENTION

Pitchers: Brooke Hartman, Colonial Heights; Anna Grace Howe, Mills Godwin; Bailey Jahna, Manchester; Grace Tharp, Glen Allen; Elise Fleming, Highland Springs.

Infield: Hope Coppedge, Clover Hill; Samaria Jackson, Highland Springs; Alyssa Merhag, Glen Allen; Alline Alexander, New Kent; Karsyn Martin, Goochland; Lexi Washington, Mills Godwin; Alex Giesen, Trinity Episcopal; Meredith Collier, Glen Allen; Lexi Washington, Mills Godwin; Sadie Dempster, Manchester; Taylor Hendricks, Manchester; Jordan Wise, Cosby; Danielle Brown, Atlee; Kaitlyn Crenshaw, Atlee; Makenzie Mathis, Colonial Heights; Alana Collier, Deep Run; Marlee Gaskill, Midlothian; Casey Stapleton, Hermitage; Allana Overby, Clover Hill.

Outfield: Savannah Johnson, Powhatan; Iyanna Fortenberry, James River; Abrielle White, Goochland; Blayne Talley, Cosby; Alyssa Merhag, Glen Allen; Alana Collier, Deep Run; Kaileigh Byars, Hanover; Savannah Nash, Atlee; Kamryn Mitchell, Colonial Heights; Angie Rudolph, Clover Hill; Addison Thompson, Clover Hill; Emma Salzman, Midlothian; Peyton Simmons, Glen Allen; Lily Zehmer, Deep Run.

Catcher: Teagan Baulsir, Deep Run; Alex DiNardo, Cosby; Riley Koscinski, Manchester; Bailey Bucholz, Atlee; Georgia Grubb, Colonial Heights; Alejandra Whittman, Clover Hill.

Utility: Riley Matthews, Deep Run; Jasmine Price, Goochland; Lilly Parrish, Hanover; Leiah Branch, Cosby; Madison Faries, Colonial Heights; Catherine Alderson, Colonial Heights; Tyra Christian, Glen Allen; Kim Jones, Midlothian.

PREVIOUS ALL-METRO PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

2021: Taylor Norton, Cosby

2020: No season

2019: Molly Grube, Manchester

2018: Laura Thompson, Prince George

2017: Peyton St. George, Atlee

2016: Peyton St. George, Atlee

2015: Kayla Huffman, King William

2014: Chelsea Whitcomb, Cosby

2013: Chelsea Whitcomb, Cosby

2012: Chelsea Whitcomb, Cosby

2011: Kelly Heinz, Lee-Davis

2010: Heather Sink, Cosby

2009: Lauren Vinson, Prince George

2008: Courtney Long, Hanover

2007: Lauren Brummell, Hanover

2006: Julie Smith, Hanover

2005: Julie Smith, Hanover

2004: Carissa Conroy, Mills Godwin

2003: Erica Cifarell, Midlothian

2002: Casey Smith, Atlee; Katheryn Gannon, Atlee

2001: Jessica Worsham, Powhatan

2000: Catherine Gilliam, Mills Godwin; Jamie Gostyla, Midlothian

1999: Carmen Farmer, Varina

1998: Carmen Farmer, Varina

1997: Keisha Shepperson, Varina

1996: Natasha Johnson, Manchester

1995: Michelle Meadows, Monacan

1994: Jenny McIntyre, Midlothian

ZJoachim@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6555

Twitter: @ZachJoachim

0 Comments

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News