Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Sydney Simpson’s average of two strikeouts per inning this past softball season did not leave a whole lot of room for opposing lineup to work with.
In 181 and two-third innings, the Etowah sophomore struck out 359 batters while allowing only 72 hits, 23 earned runs and 63 walks. She went 23-6-1 in the circle with an earned run average of 0.88. Simpson also held her own at the plate with 43 hits, 32 RBI and a .341 batting average.
For the above accomplishments, Simpson is the 2021 All-Messenger softball team’s Player of the Year.
Simpson (pictured above) was a workhorse for the Lady Blue Devils during the postseason. In the regional and state tournaments combined, she started all 10 games and won six of them. In 53 innings, she allowed just 36 hits, 13 earned runs and 22 walks while fanning 93. She was recently named to the ASWA Class 4A All-State first team pitching staff.
“Sydney stepped up and battled the whole way,” said EHS head softball coach Kim Jones following the state tournament. “She was exhausted by the end but still finished strong. To [pitch] back to back to back to back in both [tournaments] was something else. She reached down deep.”
Joining Simpson on first team pitching staff were Southside junior Lexi Darnell, Sardis sophomore Kay-den Tarvin, Glencoe freshman Summer Crump and Coosa Christian seventh grader Evelyn Nowak.
In 116 innings, Tarvin posted a 4.38 earned run average while striking out 116. She helped the Lady Lions finish runner-up at the Class 5A East Regional and qualify for the state tournament.
The first team infield features Etowah senior Hally Bennett at catcher, Glencoe sophomore Kaylee Higdon at first base, Southside senior Lynnsey Hunt at second base, Etowah junior Abbi Martin at shortstop and Sardis senior Adelyn Ellis at third base.
Bennett batted .378 with 48 hits (including six homes runs), 55 runs, 36 RBI and an on-base percentage of .467.
Higdon had 32 hits, 25 RBI and 20 runs with a .364 batting average and .394 on-base percentage while helping the Lady Yellow Jackets finished fourth out of eight teams at the Class 3A East Central Regional.
Hunt collected 55 hits, 44 runs, 33 RBI, 15 steals, a .404 batting average and a .484 on-bae percentage as Southside won the Etowah County Schools Tournament finished fourth at the Class 6A East Central Regional. Martin wielded a big bat in the Etowah lineup with 62 hits (including 12 doubles, eight triples and four home runs), 57 RBI, 50 runs, 18 walks and only three strikeouts while batting .488 with a .539 on-base percentage. Ellis finished with a .451 batting average, .524 on-base percentage, 55 hits, 40 runs 20 RBI and 12 steals.
The first team outfield consists of Southside junior Macey Herren, Sardis senior Harlee Vincent and Southside senior Carly Lankford. Herren was a Class 6A first team All-State selection after
Finishing with 56 hits (including 13 home runs), 52 RBI, 41 runs, a .406 batting average and a .484 on-base percentage. Lankford contributed 65 hits, 41 runs, 35 steals, 17 runs, a .417 batting average and a .468 on-base percentage.
Glencoe freshman Abi Bunt claimed the designated hitter spot with some impressive offensive numbers. In 91 at-bats, she had 44 hits, including 11 doubles and eight home runs, 38 runs and 28 RBI with only six strikeouts. She batted .484 with an on-base percentage of .583.
Earning the utility spot was West End junior Payton Canady, who in 22 games had 35 hits (including nine doubles), 37 runs, 22 RBI and 24 steals with no strikeouts. She batted .486 with a .549 on-base percentage.
Coach of the Year honors went to Etowah’s Kim Jones after she guided the Lady Blue Devils to a 35-11 record, an area championship and a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament.
Making up the All-Messenger second team infield were Southside eighth grade catcher Bailey Houston (.389 BA, .451 OBP, 37 hits, 38 runs, 24 RBI), West End freshman first baseman Emma Finch (24 hits, 21 runs, 20 RBI, .381 BA, .500 OBP), Ashville senior second baseman Ashlee Eastis (33 hits, 27 RBI, 17 runs, 4 HRs, .516 BA), Glencoe sophomore shortstop Kayla Traylor (36 hits, 34 runs, 16 RBI, .387 BA, .513 OBP) and Etowah junior third baseman Anna Jones (42 hits, including nine doubles and five homes runs, 43 RBI, 30 runs, .359 AA, .405 OBP).
The second team outfield includes Ashville junior Juli Mostillo (34 hits, 26 runs, 21 RBI, five HR, 14 steals, .430 BA, .516 OBP), Hokes Bluff freshman Rosie Garrett (26 hits, 26 RBI, 18 runs, .371 BA, .452 OBP) and West End freshman Josie Bunch (26 hits, 26 RBI, 18 runs, four HR, .371 BA, .429 OBP).
At designated hitter is Glencoe sophomore Hailey Hanners (39 hits, seven HR, 35 RBI 24 runs, no strikeouts, .455 BA, .455 OBP), while the Hokes Bluff senior Maddie Smith (28 hits, 22 runs, 12 RBI, .354 BA, .446 OBP) fills the utility role.
Editor’s note: The 2021 All-Messenger softball team was determined based on season statistics submitted by local schools. Not all schools submitted informaiton.