By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
When Emilee Coker reached first base this past softball season, she did not remain there for too long.
The Southside High senior second baseman stole 70 bases out of 74 attempts in 2018, in the process giving the Lady Panthers an almost automatic runner in scoring position after reaching base. With 84 hits, a .509 batting average, a .552 on base percentage a .575 slugging percentage and only 12 strikeouts, Coker rarely headed back to the dugout following an at-bat, and her 74 runs scored provided her team with at least one run per game over the course of the season.
Coker’s production earned her the MVP award for the 2018 All-Messenger softball team.
“In the majority of our games when we batted first, we were up at least 1-0 because of Emilee and her speed,” said SHS head softball coach Kyle Routon. “She also was a very good defensive player, and as our only senior she really led by example. She’s not very outspoken or vocal, but with a team as young as we were, they all followed her. Emilee always practiced hard and is very competitive, which fueled everybody else.”
Coker made the Class 6A All-State last season after fi-nishing with a .410 batting average, 57 hits, 42 runs, 21 RBI, and 49 steals.
The first team pitching staff also includes Gadsden City senior Amanda Kantzler and Southside eighth grader Rilee Gattis, who in 146 innings finished with a 19-9 record, 79 strikeouts and a 2.87 ERA. She also hit .336 with 46 RBI.
In 105 innings, Hokes Bluff eighth grader Kyleigh Blackwell had 82 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA, while Etowah seventh grader Sydney Simpson had a 3.30 ERA and 154 strikeouts.
Manning the first team infield along with Coker are Glencoe senior first base Skylar Thompson .326 batting average, 31 RBI, two home runs); Etowah eighth grader Abbi Martin at shortstop (.410 batting average, 50 hits, 34 runs scored, 11 RBI, 14 steals), Glencoe junior Evan Burns at third base (.453 batting average, 39 RBI, 33 runs scored) and West End freshman Adrianna Engle at catcher (.396 batting average, .981 fielding percentage).
The first team outfield features Southside junior Lauren Hunt (.487 batting average, 46 RBI, 58 runs, 50 stolen bases), Etowah senior Bree Vasser (.390 batting average, 48 hits, 33 RBI, 31 runs scored, six home runs) and Hokes Bluff sophomore Emilee Latronico (.324 batting average, 23 hits, 23 RBI, 17 runs scored, five home runs).
Sardis sophomore shortstop Jade Bonds was selected in the designated hitter category by way of her .416 batting average, .564 slugging percentage, 43 hits and 24 runs scored.
The All-Messenger second team infield consists of Southside freshman Julia Hurley at first base (.333 average, .447 on base percentage, 37 RBI, 11 doubles, two home runs), Glencoe senior Breia Little at second base (.371 batting average, 37 runs scored, 36 RBI, three home runs), Sardis sophomore Hailey Hill at third base (.330 batting avg., 32 hits, 17 steals), and Southside eighth grader Chloe Gattis at catcher (.312 batting average, 19 RBI, .980 fielding percentage, five base runners thrown out).
Making up the second team outfield are Etowah senior Melissa Love (.337 batting average, 33 hits, 27 RBI, 22 runs scored, three home runs), Hokes Bluff freshman Maddie Smith (.382 batting average, 34 hits) and Southside sophomore Kaylee Brown (.297 batting average, 29 RBI, 11 doubles, 20 steals).
Southside freshman Sydney Yancey made the cut at designated hitter with a .303 batting average, a .507 slugging percentage, 49 RBI and seven home runs.