By Chris McCarthy
Etowah High senior Eli Dunn was the source of much frustration for opposing hitters and pitchers alike this past baseball season.
On the mound, the hard-throwing righthander went 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA while twirling four shutouts and racking up 70 strikeouts. At the plate, he collected 34 hits, 28 RBI, 28 runs, 10 doubles, five home runs (including three grand slams) and 21 steals while batting .343.
Dunn’s production played a big part in the Blue Devils’ 29-8 record, area championship and berth in the Class 5A quarterfinals, where Etowah lost to eventual state champion Russellville.
“Eli is an all-around three-way player,” said EHS head baseball coach Larry Foster. “Offensively, defensively and pitching, he did an outstanding job for us. He’s probably as good as most of the kids who have been around here through the years, and I’ve coached a lot of good ones. You also won’t find a better person. Eli’s a good leader and a good Christian young man.”
Joining Dunn on the All-Messenger first team were Etowah senior pitcher Cade Runyan, Westbrook Christian senior pitcher Tyler Self, Hokes Bluff junior pitcher Dylan Teague, Gaston senior pitcher Alexander Allen, Etowah senior catcher Josh Bobo, Gadsden City junior first baseman Ryan Sparks, Westbrook junior second baseman Cullen Stafford, Hokes Bluff junior shortstop Weston Ball, Southside senior third baseman Tanner Snow, Coosa Christian senior outfielder Caleb Garrett, Hokes Bluff sophomore outfielder Carson Eubanks; Gadsden City senior outfielder David Minton, and Hokes Bluff senior Wyatt Watson at designated hitter.
In 63 innings, Runyan finished with an 11-1-1 record, a 1.11 earned run average, 55 strikeouts and three shutouts.
Self was the ace of the Warrior pitching staff with a 9-2 record, a 1.18 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 65 innings. He helped Westbrook win an area title and make it to the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Teague posted a 9-2 record in 67.2 innings with a 2.53 ERA and 55 strikeouts while helping the Eagles go 23-7 record and qualify for the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
Allen went 7-2 for the Bulldogs with a 2.65 ERA and 104 strikeouts. Opponents batted only .134 against him.
Bobo led the Blue Devils with a .388 batting average while collecting 40 hits, 35 RBI, 20 runs and 10 doubles.
Sparks finished with a .394 batting average, 39 hits, 34 RBI and 10 doubles for the Titans.
Stafford batted .333 while adding 35 hits, 32 RBI and 27 runs.
Ball had a .389 batting average while amassing 35 hits, 30 runs and 23 RBI.
Snow finished with a .441 batting average, 45 hits, 27 runs, 12 doubles and five triples. He helped the Panthers go 22-11, win the area title and qualify for the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Garrett batted .515 with 22 RBI 10 doubles and 27 steals while helping the Conquerors go 25-6 and win the area championship.
In 32 games, Minton accumulated 31 hits, 27 runs, 10 doubles and 21 steals while batting .337.
Eubanks had a .378 batting average with 42 hits and 20 steals.
Watson batted .430 with 43 hits, 32 RBI and 29 runs.
The All-Messenger second team includes Coosa Christian junior pitcher Jackson Justus (6-2 record, 1.73 ERA); Southside sophomore pitcher Sam Raines (9-2-1 record, 2.70 ERA, 40 strikeouts, three shutouts); Westbrook 8th grade pitcher Sam Dalton (0.85 ERA, 47 strikeouts); West End senior pitcher Cory Willingham (1.72 ERA, 112 strikeouts); Southside senior pitcher Logan Miracle (6-3-2 record, 46 strikeouts); Westbrook junior catcher Troy Bearden (.379 batting average, 36 hits, 29 RBI); Southside junior first baseman Logan Brooks (.395 batting average, 30 hits, 30 RBI, 18 runs, four home runs); Coosa Christian senior second baseman Alex Holman (.379 batting average, 31 RBI); Gadsden City junior shortstop: Hudson James (.460 batting average, 40 hits, 21 runs, 19 RBI, 37 steals); Sardis senior third baseman Ross Strickland (.381 batting average, 40 hits, 27 runs, 22 RBI, 12 doubles); Coosa Christian junior de-signated hitter Ashton Clemmons (.405 batting average, 45 RB); Glencoe junior outfielder Noah Huff .288 batting average, 19 RBI); and Sardis junior outfielder Jake Ross (.330 batting average, 32 hits, 23 RBI, 23 runs).