Hokes Bluff slugger heading to Gadsden State


Submitted photo 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Although she graduated high school this past week, Abby Payne’s softball career is far from finished.
The Hokes Bluff senior will take the field with Gadsden State’s first softball team is eight years this fall.
“It feels good, because I get to be a part of something special,” said Payne. “I got along with Coach [Ryan] Clark because he’s a lot like my coach at Hokes Bluff (Rush Rutledge). I also get to stay close to home, which I wanted to do for the first couple of years [in college].”
This past season, Payne (pictured at right) finished with a .537 batting average, 51 hits (including 13 doubles and four triples), 45 runs and 41 RBI. Her 10 home runs set a school single-season record and her 25 career homers is a school record. She helped the Lady Eagles go 22-13-1 win the area and qualify for the North Regional Tournament. She was recently named to the All-Etowah County Schools softball team. She started 171 games for Hokes Bluff and never missed a game during her varsity career.
Payne join Glencoe’s Emma Croy, Eto-wah’s Lauren Farmer, Southside’s Jacie Brooks and Ava Ramsey and Cherokee County’s Lanie Williams on the 2025 Lady Cardinal roster.
“I grew playing with some of those girls in travel ball, so being able to play with them again is good,” said Payne.
As a junior, Payne batted .510 with 58 RBI, 50 runs, 54 hits and six home runs and was named to the All-Messenger first team, All-Etowah County first team, All-Area first team and Class 3A Honorable Mention All-State.
She was selected as the Lady Eagles’ Offensive MVP.
As a sophomore, Payne batted .425 with 42 RBI and eight home runs. Her walk-off home run in the championship game of the area tournament sent Hokes Bluff to the regional tournament for the first time in 19 years.
In 22 games as a freshman, Payne had a .351 batting average and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“Abby ‘s a really good softball player who is also a really good person,” said Rutledge. “She’s a hard worker and you can tell she loves the game. Along with several other players over the last three years, Abby’s helped put Hokes Bluff on the map about having a pretty decent softball program.
“If she continues to work and gets in the weight room this summer and does what Coach Clark asks her to do, I think she’ll be successful at Gadsden State.”



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