The Tifton Gazette offers a round of applause for individuals and organizations doing good things in our community.

Connor Thomas and Cade Marlowe

Two former high school baseball players from Tift County hit a career high last week as they were both picked in the Major League Baseball draft.

Georgia Tech’s Connor Thomas got picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth round and West Georgia’s Cade Marlowe was nabbed by the Seattle Mariners in the 20th round.

Cade played for Tift County High, with Marlowe at Tiftarea Academy.

Playing for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League last summer, Marlowe hit .309 with 51 hits in 44 games. When baseball started back up this spring at West Georgia, he batted .389 with five homers. He also set both the single season and career mark for stolen bases. Marlowe swiped 46 bags in 51 attempts in 2019.

In this past season, Thomas had an ERA of 3.11, with 103 strikeouts and 19 walks. Thomas threw three more complete games and finished with a 9-2 mark. In addition, he merited second team All-American from Collegiate Baseball and all-ACC honors.

Both credited their high school coaches for helping them develop as players.

“Coach [Brad] Porter, he’s a great guy, a great coach and a great friend to me,” said Marlowe in a Tifton Gazette article. “He’s done more than I can ever ask for out of a coach. Coach Porter’s the best.”

Porter coached Marlowe at Tiftarea before accepting a job at Valdosta High in 2017.

“Coach [Kyle] Kirk believed in me. He gave me a shot at the varsity as a freshman, “ Thomas said in the same article. “It really helped me keep improving.”

Mallory Ward School of Dance

The Mallory Ward School of Dance broke ground on a new facility on June 5. The facility, which will be located on Victory Drive, has been a dream for years since the dance studio has long outgrown its Tift Avenue location.

Current studio owner Mallory Ward and original owner Carolyn Ellis, along with friends and family, hefted shovels at the groundbreaking.

Ellis began the studio in 1973 and founded the All That Glitters dance troupe, which has performed all over the world. Ward, who grew up dancing under the tutelage of Ellis, took over ownership of the studio from her mentor after Ellis was diagnosed with cancer.

“We’ve been in the same location 45 years and we have needed space for a long time,” said Ward at the ceremony. “I’m so excited to be here in the official location where we’re going to be. This is definitely a dream come true and a blessing from God.”

Tift County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Spradley

The Exchange Club of Tifton recently recognized its 2019 Deputy of the Year Chris Spradley, a deputy with the traffic division of the Tift County Sheriff’s Office.

Spradley joined the department in April of 2018 as a patrol deputy. His ambition all along was to obtain a position within the traffic division. He distinguished himself by his attention to detail and self-determination.

After receiving the award, Spradley said, “I love my job and serving this community. It is genuinely my passion and I never dread getting up to go to work.”

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