By Chris McCarthy/ Publisher/Editor
A pair of senior infielders highlights the Messenger All-Area baseball and softball teams.
Westbrook Christian third baseman Matthew Reaves and Glencoe catcher Jaime McGuire were named Players of the Year for the 2013 season.
A six-year starter at the hot corner, Reaves helped the Warriors finish as the Class 2A state runner-up. In 33 games, he batted a team-high .439 with 24 runs, 47 hits, 33 RBI, 12 doubles and three home runs.
Reaves almost single-handedly pushed Westbrook into the state championship series after going 7-for-8 with a pair of three-run home runs, a double and four singles against Randolph County in the state semifinals.
Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy noted that although several of his players were legitimate candidates for player of the year honors, Reaves lengthy tenure on the varsity was hard to overlook.
“It’s very rare to have a six-year starter, in any sport. He’s been on the varsity for so long, it’s hard to remember when he wasn’t in the lineup, so his game experience really helped us. But more than that, Matthew’s one of those guys that’s a friend to everybody and helps keep everybody up. Even if he were having a bad day, you’d never know it. For a 17 or 18 year old kid to have that attitude, that’s what’s most impressive to me. Matthew’s a young man of outstanding character, which will carry on with him after he finishes school.”
McGuire this season finished with a .581 batting average with 18 home runs, 16 doubles, 23 runs and 55 RBI. She walked 37 times and struck out only once. Over the past two seasons, McGuire helped the Lady Yellow Jackets post a 69-23 record and make back-to-back regional tournament appearances.
A member of the varsity since the seventh grade, McGuire signed with Southern Union in January.
“Jamie is a player that any coach would love to have on his or her team,” said GHS softball coach Amy Travis. “She brings so much to the playing field. She is a valuable player on both offense and defense. I can’t say enough about Jamie and her leadership. I am really going to miss her next year, on and off the field. I don’t see her having any problems succeeding on the next level.”
Reaves has plenty of company from the Warriors on the first team, including pitchers Mikhail Cazenave and Jake Kilgo. In 81 innings, Cazenave went 10-3 this season while striking out 108 and finishing with a 1.08 earned run average. Kilgo posted a 9-2 record with 43 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA.
Westbrook senior Jonathan Ford, who this season moved from catcher to first base, batted .356 while contributing 36 hits, 24 runs, 23 RBI and 11 doubles. Senior catcher Jordan McCartney finished with a .350 batting average along with 41 hits, 29 runs, 31 RBI and nine doubles while striking out only nine times. Senior outfielder Clay Templeton batted .379 with 36 hits, 19 runs, 22 RBI and 12 doubles.
Three players from Class 5A state quarterfinalist Southside made the team in senior pitcher Andrew Fuhrman, senior outfielder Blake Devine and senior first baseman Drew Mullinax, who made the team in the designated hitter spot.
A Calhoun Community College signee, Fuhrman went 8-1 with a 1.13 ERA while fanning 67 and allowing only eight earned runs and eight walks in 50 innings.
Devine batted .410 with 48 hits, 36 runs, 32 RBI, 16 doubles, four triples and 27 steals. Mullinax finished with a .400 average while collecting 40 hits, 41 runs, 22 RBI 10 doubles and 17 steals.
West End senior second baseman Caleb Mayo, who signed with Snead State, powered the Patriot offense with 40 hits, 35 runs and a .506 batting average along with an impressive 32 stolen bases.
Rounding out the first team infield is Hokes Bluff senior shortstop Brad Robertson, who in 24 games batted .391 with 27 hits, 18 steals and a .527 on-base percentage.
Joining Templeton and Devine in the outfield is Gaston senior Destin Pollard, batted .382 with 18 hits, 12 RBI, 10 runs and seven doubles in only 18 games.
Kennedy gets the nod as Coach of the Year after guiding the Warriors to a 25-15 record and a berth in the state championship series. He also helped push Westbrook’s current area winning streak to 52 games.
“I was totally unaware of anything of this sort until some folks called it to my attention,” said Kennedy. “What this streak mainly says is that we’ve had some tremendous athletes who buy into the program. Every coach has his way of doing things and when the kids buy into it and follow it, it makes a huge difference.”
The first-team softball pitching staff features Sardis senior Bethany Chamblee, Southside sophomore Claire Graves and Glencoe senior Jordan Sims.
As the ace of the Lady Lion staff, Chamblee went 30-10-1 with 132 strikeouts, seven shutouts and a 2.85 ERA in 254 innings of work as Sardis won the county and area tournaments and qualified for the Class 4A state tournament. She signed with Gadsden State earlier this year.
In 204 innings, Graves had a 1.57 ERA with 287 strikeouts while helping the Lady Panthers win the area tournament title and qualify for the Class 5A state tournament.
Sims, who also will play for Jacksonville State, finished with a 21-10 record, 210 strikeouts and a 2.35 ERA.
Joining McGuire on the first-team infield is Southside sophomore first baseman Brittany Williams, (.360 BA, 40 hits, 27 RBI); Sardis junior second baseman Payden Golden (.348 BA, 57 hits, 44 runs, 40 RBI, 14 doubles); Sardis senior shortstop Kameron Carter (.526 BA, 81 hits, 67 runs, 61 RBI, 18 doubles, 14 home runs, 19 steals); and West End junior third baseman Morgan Cleveland (.448 BA, 43 hits, 29 runs, 24 RBI, 14 doubles, five home runs).
The first-team outfield consists of Sardis senior Krista Hubbard (.461 BA, 77 hits, 72 runs, 31 RBI, 14 doubles, 22 steals), Southside senior Savanna Thomas (.341 BA, 59 hits, 40 runs, 25 RBI, 11 doubles, 0.946 fielding percentage) and West End junior Courtney Oliver (.385 BA, 40 hits 18 runs, 26 RBI).
Filling the designated hitter spot is Southside sophomore Paiden Kircus, who batted a team-high .388 with 36 hits, 25 runs and 20 RBI.
Angie Sanders garnered Coach of the Year honors after guiding Southside to a 37-15-1 record, a final state ranking of No. 2 and a berth in the Class 5A state tournament.