Polk County athletes Gunnar Alm, left, and Lawson Carter, right, along with head coach Billy Alm at Saturday's Hot Stove League Dinner in Morganton (photo courtesy Wolverine Baseball)

Polk County baseball players Gunnar Alm and Lawson Carter were honored at Saturday’s 1st Annual Blue Ridge Hot Stove Dinner in Morganton.

Alm received the 2026 Rising Star of the Year award while Carter was named the Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Three other Polk County athletes – softball players Mia Bradley, Sarah Vitale and Chloe Young – were finalists for awards at the event.

The Hot Stove League Dinner recognizes top baseball and softball players and scholars. Orginating in Charlotte more than decade ago, the Hot Stove League expanded to the area this year, with counties including Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey.