By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
It is no surprise that the most dominant baseball team in the area also dominated the annual All-Messenger squad.
Southside High School head coach Blake Bone was named Coach of the Year and pitcher/shortstop Andrew Fuhrman was named Player of the Year. The Panthers placed four other players on the list also.
Fuhrman was a major piece in Southside’s Class 5A title run, which took the Panthers all the way to the state finals. The right-handed junior posted an earned run average of 1.78 over 55 innings pitched, while striking out 47. He earned three postseason wins for Southside.
Fuhrman was equally effective with the bat, tallying a .382 average. He slapped nine doubles and had 20 runs batted in.
Around the All-Messenger infield was Gaston catcher Jordan McCartney, Southside first baseman Caleb Butler, Hokes Bluff second baseman Tanner Shields, West End shortstop Caleb Mayo and Westbrook Christian third baseman Matthew Reaves.
McCartney proved that he was one of the top catchers in the county. The junior was a defensive wall for the Bulldogs and earned Class 1A, All-State first team honors and led Gaston to the third round of the playoffs.
Butler batted third in the potent Southside lineup. The senior led the Panthers with a .472 average, 37 RBIs and 11 doubles. Butler hit one home run this season, a deep shot to centerfield in the state championship match.
Shields played double-duty for the Eagles defensively. Besides being one of the top fielders in the area, the junior had a 2.66 ERA with 57 strikeouts. Shields surrendered no stolen bases and kept runners close to first base with a quick pick-off move. He posted a 5-3 record. He was productive offensively, batting .329 with 11 doubles and 19 RBIs. He led the team in slugging with a .500 average.
Mayo is one of the top all-around players in the county and possesses the rare combination of speed and power. The shortstop paced the Patriots with a .421 batting average and a .605 slugging average. The speedster led the team with nine doubles and four triples. Despite batting leadoff, Mayo had 16 RBIs. Mayo had an on base percentage of .602, which led to 19 stolen bases.
Reaves was a solid third baseman for the Warriors the past two seasons. Reaves batted cleanup for Westbrook Christian and finished with a .432 average, 49 RBIs and 41 runs scored. He also shared pitching duties as well.
The All-Messenger outfield consisted of Westbrook Christian’s Jake Kilgo, West End’s Ryan Mashburn and Southside’s Braxton Light.
Kilgo was a key figure in the Warriors’ success this season. The sophomore centerfielder displayed great defensive skills and range. Kilgo batted second in the lineup, posting a .431 batting average. He also shared pitching responsibilities.
Mashburn led the Patriots with a .429 batting average and 24 RBIs. Mashburn’s primary position was at third base, but spent equal time in the outfield due to his defensive skills. The junior trailed teammate Mayo in slugging percentage (.597) and doubles (8).
Mashburn was the Patriots’ primary relief pitcher. The submariner hurled 28 innings, posting a 3.56 ERA with 28 strikeouts and a pair of wins.
Light was nearly perfect as a right fielder for the Panthers, posting a .986 fielding percentage. He was equally effective offensively. Batting second in the lineup, Light posted a .383 batting average with six doubles, a triple and 19 RBIs.
The All-Messenger pitching staff was rounded out Westbrook Christian’s Mikhail Cazenave, Etowah’s Josh Bobo, Glencoe’s Harrison Bright, Hokes Bluff’s Gidley, Coosa Christian’s Hunter Wood, Gadsden City’s Josh Hill and Southside’s Alex Pondick.
Westbrook Christian’s John Mayfield and Southside’s Drew Mullinax were named utility players, while Hokes Bluff’s Chase Jackiel and Etowah’s Colby Dunn were named designated hitters.