Photo: Etowah High’s Caleb Freeman (12) is congratulated by teammate Jameson Scissum after Freeman’s two-hit, 12-strikeouts pitching performance against Hamilton in the Class 4A state baseball semifinals on May 11. Freeman was selected as the Player of the Year for the 2022 All-Messenger baseball team.
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Class 4A state runner-up Etowah came away with the top honors for the 2002 All-Messenger high school baseball team.
The Blue Devils placed five players on the first team, including the Player of the Year in Caleb Freeman and Coach of the Year in Blake Bone.
In his first year on the job, Bone guided Etowah to a 28-14 record and a berth in the state championship series for first time since 1996.
A junior pitcher/centerfielder Freeman took the MVP honors amid stiff competition, primarily with several of his teammates. As the Blue Devils’ ace, Freeman finished with 87 strikeouts and a 1.89 earned run average in 60 innings with a record of 8-4-2. He pitched a no-hitter. Freeman was also one of the Blue Devils top batters with 44 hits (including 11 doubles), 36 runs scored, 26 RBI and a .344 batting average. He was near-perfect in stolen base attempts at 26-for-27, and his defensive prowess yielded a 0.944 fielding percentage.
Joining Freeman on the first team pitching staff were Westbrook Christian junior Hugh Windle, Etowah freshman Jamison Scissum, Gadsden City junior Jordan Nowell and Etowah junior Trace Thompson.
Windle logged 70.1 innings as the Warriors’ ace, going 8-3 while racking up 112 strikeouts and posting a stellar 1.19 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .187 average. He was instrumental in Westbrook’s 15th straight area championship and state quarterfinal appearance.
Scissum went 6-3-1 in 54 innings with 53 strikeouts and a 1.94 ERA.
Nowell ended up with 50 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA in 56 innings.
Thompson was perhaps the top No. 3 pitcher in the area, going 4-1-3 in 40 innings with 29 strikeouts and a miniscule 0.70 ERA.
The first team infield consists of Etowah senior second baseman Caleb Smith, Hokes Bluff junior catcher Brayson Hayes, Sardis sophomore first baseman Carson Gillian, Gadsden City senior shortstop Kyle Cline and Etowah junior third baseman Andrew Pierce.
Smith was the Blue Devils’ table setter for on the base paths with a school-record 50 steals out of 52 attempts, He batted .312 with 34 hits, 41 runs and 11 RBI along with a fielding percentage of 0.973.
All-Messenger baseball – page 5B
Hayes batted .448 with 43 hits with 17 doubles and five home runs and 50 RBI. He helped the Eagles go 21-13 and make it to the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Gillian batted .440 while racking up 44 hits with 11 doubles, 27 RBI and 23 runs while striking out only nine times in 100 at-bats.
Cline finished with 45 hits with eight doubles, 35 runs and 22 RBI while batting .425. He had an on-base percentage of .534, a slugging percentage of .547 and a fielding percentage of 0.925.
Playing at the hot corner, Andrew Pierce accumulated 51 hits with 10 doubles, 39 runs, 38 RBI and 30 steals while batting .395.
Making up the first-team outfield are Coosa Christian so-phomore John David Justus, West End junior Thad Pearce and Hokes Bluff eighth grader Bryce Whitaker. Justus helped the Conqueror cause with a .361 batting average, 30 hits with seven doubles, 20 runs and 13 steals. Pearce
finished with a .321 batting average, 30 runs and five doubles. Whitaker batted .342 along with 44 runs, 27 hits and 23 steals.
Holding down the designated hitter spot is Sardis senior Brody Samples, who helped the Lions’ cause with 41 hits with 11 doubles, 36 runs, 24 RBI and a .441 batting average.
Manning the utility position is Westbrook senior first baseman/pitcher Brody Self, who batted .357 with 35 hits with 11 doubles and four home runs while driving in 26 runs and scoring 21 runs. In 52 innings, he went 5-4 with 61 strikeouts.
The second team pitching staff features West End junior Connor Barnard (64 innings, 70 strikeouts, 2.73 ERA) and Southside senior Jacob McFarling (38.2 innings, 52 strikeouts, 2.29 ERA).
The second team infield includes Coosa Christian senior catcher Thomas Skaggs, Hokes Bluff freshman first baseman Glavine Lamberth, Gadsden City senior first baseman Corey Cline, West End junior shortstop Tyler Jones and Sardis sophomore third baseman Russ Wiggs.
Skaggs closed out the season with a .342 batting average along with 25 hits with seven doubles and three home runs and 24 RBI. Lamberth collected 33 hits with 12 doubles and 40 RBI while batting .388. Cline batted .421 while producing with hits with 10 doubles and two triples, 31 runs, 20 RBI and 10 steals. Jones’s numbers included a .376 batting average, 24 RBI and nine doubles. Wiggs had 32 hits, 20 RBI and 18 runs while batting .360.
The second team outfield features West End senior Isaiah Roberson, Glencoe junior Garrett Gaskin and Sardis sophomore Trey Thornton.
Roberson batted .329 with 24 RBI and six doubles, Gaskin hit .340 with 28 RBI and three home runs and Thornton finished with 37 hits, 28 runs, 19 RBI and a batting average of .356.
Glencoe senior first baseman Greyson Kellett and Coosa Christian sophomore shortstop Brody Nelson are the second team’s designated hitter and utility player, respectively.
Kellett batted .386 with 28 RBI and 29 runs scored, while Nelson was good for a .317 batting average, 26 hits with seven doubles, 19 runs and 21 steals.
Earning honorable mention recognition were Hokes Bluff freshman shortstop Anderson Morgan (30 hits, 46 runs, .326 batting average); Southside junior shortstop Dre’sen Champagne (.350 batting average); Ashville senior Dylan Harris (.307 batting average, 17 RBI, 11 runs, 11 steals); Gaston freshman second baseman Conner Humphrey (.286 batting average, 12 RBI); Westbrook junior infielder Dalton Grace (.287 batting average, 25 hits, 25 runs, 19 RBI); Southside senior catcher Drew McBurnett (.375 batting average); Westbrook junior catcher Jackson Bryant (.253 batting average, 23 hits, 28 RBI); and Southside sophomore pitcher Trey Frachiseur (33 innings, 35 strikeouts, 2.94 ERA).