Local standouts to be inducted into state softball hall of fame

March 1, 2018 chris
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The Alabama Softball Association will hold its 26th Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on Saturday, March 10 at 3 p.m. at the Jerry Belk Recreation Center in Tuscaloosa. Eight individuals will be inducted in the ASA’s 2018 hall of fame, including local players Bert Estes, Rodney Roberts and Gary Whitefield. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for ages 12 and under. For tickets, call ASA Hall of Fame trustee G. Pat Adkison at 256-490-9650.
A Hokes Bluff native, Estes began his playing career in 1977 and retired in 2005. He came from a softball family, following in the footsteps of his mother Eudine (who also is a member of the ASA Hall of Fame) and his brothers. He and his mother are the only mother/son in the hall of fame.
Estes was an excellent all-around player in being a solid defensive player and an even better offensive player. He always was aggressive and a threat on the bases. Estes played on 18 District 4 championship teams and competed in nine ASA state championship tournaments. His teams qua-lified and participated in six national tournaments and was a member of the 1987 Men’s Major Church national championship team.
Estes was a six-time District 4 Tournament MVP and four-time state tournament MVP. In 1996, he was selected as an All-American in the Co-Ed ASA National Tournament.
Roberts, who primarily played first base but also outfield and catcher, was known for his outstanding hitting, especially home runs. A native of Gadsden, he began his playing career in 1985 with J.R. Timber. He then played for East Walnut Baptist, one of the best church league teams in the ASA, and CIA. Both teams were coached by ASA Hall of famer member Steve Stewart.
Roberts played in many classifications, including Men’s Major, Class A Church, Men’s Open Classes and Co-Ed, and played in many district, state and national ASA tournaments. Many of his teams finished high or won a championship. Robert was a six-time All-American selection, his first as a member of East Walnut. He was the 2002 national home run champion and made the All-America team. Roberts’ career came to an end following an accident in 2008.
A native of Leesburg, Whitefield played in the outfield and was known for his home run hitting ability. Many slow-pitch softball players across Alabama claim that Whitefield was one of the best players to play in Alabama, second only to ASA Hall of Fame member Craig Elliott.
Whitefield began his playing career in 1978 with the East Gadsden Merchants, followed by stints with 12th Street Baptist in Gadsden, Jim Magill Chevrolet out of Birmingham, Lighthouse out of Georgia and Daton/Argus out of Tennessee. Whitefield teams continuously participated in both ASA district and state tournaments and often qualified for the ASA national tournaments.
Whitefield’s first national title came in 1987 with First Baptist. During that season, he was the league’s home run champion and tournament MVP and was selected to the ASA Men’s Major Church League’s All-American team. Whitefield garnered the same honors in 1990 as a member of Gadsden’s Mount Zion Baptist. He also was a member of the famed Michael Bolton teams that traveled around the U.S.
Gina Kelly, Jerry Logan, Lisa Mullinex, Harold Parker and Michael Roell are the other 2018 inductees. With the induction of Estes, Roberts and Whitefield, the number of ASA hall of fame inductees from Eto-wah County is 34. There currently are 240 individuals from the state of Alabama in the ASA Hall of Fame, which was established in 1992.