The Queen of Softball-Charlotte Bullock Markland

Published 5:43 pm Thursday, February 1, 2024

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In the heart of Tennessee, within the vibrant community of Carter County, emerged a softball luminary whose name echoed through the ages—Charlotte Bullock Markland. She wasn’t just a player; she was the cornerstone of an era-defining team, the revered 1951 Keenburg softball squad that inscribed its name in history within the Carter County league.

Managers Johnnie Shields and Charlie Morris scoured the region, handpicking exceptional softball talents to assemble an unparalleled team. Among these luminaries stood Charlotte, a pitcher of unparalleled skill and determination.

Before high school, there were no organized girls’ sports programs. Undeterred by the absence, Charlotte stepped onto the field for Elizabethton High, becoming the star pitcher of the Betsyettes—the beacon of hope for budding female athletes.

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Her talent expanded beyond local fame. She ventured to Faircloth of Johnson City, where her pitching bravery led them to an East Tennessee championship, delivering a stunning 14-9 victory over Greenville. Faircloth wasn’t just a team; it was a family, with Mr. Faircloth’s unwavering support, taking the players to enjoy the sights, from the Grand Ole Opry to the Peerless Steakhouse.

Ray, her husband, was devoted to his wife of fifty-five years before his passing in 2015.  Mr. Markland was a veteran of the United States Army and served during the Korean Conflict. He was a retired employee of North American Rayon Corporation with more than forty years of service.

In the records of Tennessee softball, Markland’s legend grew. With her as the ace pitcher, she propelled her teams to numerous victories, dominating tournaments and clinching titles. Her sheer dominance earned her a place in Houston, Texas, with the Travelers, an elite team that stormed through tournaments with an unblemished record, culminating in a prestigious National Tournament appearance.

Even in defeat, Charlotte’s resilience shone through. A heart-wrenching loss in the Tennessee State Championship spurred her to greater heights, determined to elevate her game and inspire her teammates. Big stadiums like J. Fred, Greenville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga became her stage, where her talent mesmerized audiences.

The mid-1960s saw her donning the Greenville Royals’ jersey, extending her influence beyond state lines, venturing into Alabama and showcasing her exceptional skill in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the West Coast Title match.

Her journey wasn’t confined to a specific division or league. She transcended boundaries, playing for the Kingsport Travelers across the fast-pitch, slow-pitch, and church league divisions. Each game she played and each pitch she threw was a testament to her unparalleled dedication and love for the sport.

Among those she touched and inspired, Wes Holly hailed her as a pioneer, the very first fast-pitch softball pitcher whose impact extended far beyond the field. Educator Cindy Bowman fondly remembered Charlotte not just as a phenomenal athlete but as an exceptional human being, influencing lives with her exemplary character.

Recognition finally arrived in 2019 when she was rightfully inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame—an acknowledgment of her unparalleled contributions to softball and her enduring legacy.

Charlotte Bullock Markland wasn’t merely a softball queen; she was the embodiment of resilience, determination, and sportsmanship. Her story transcends championships and victories, resonating as an enduring testament to the power of passion and perseverance in leaving an indelible mark on the world.