Power trio highlights All-Messenger softball


By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Question: What produces a .496 batting average, 164 hits, 136 runs, 100 RBI and 18 home runs over the course of 54 games?
Answer: The cream of the crop on offense in Etowah County high school softball.
The above numbers are the combined production of Southside senior centerfielder Peyton Burrell, Glencoe senior catcher Abi Bunt and Hokes Bluff senior shortstop Abby Payne for the 2024 season. For taking opposing pitchers to the woodshed game in and game out, the power trio is the three-headed All-Messenger softball team Players of the Year.
Burrell (pictured above) batted .500 along with 64 hits (including nine doubles, three triples and two home runs), 52 runs and 20 RBI. She was 35-for-37 in stolen base attempts and struck out only five times while helping the Lady Panthers go 29-12-1, win the Class Area 13 Tournament and finish a game shy of the state tournament. She signed a softball scholarship with Auburn-Montgomery last fall.
Payne produced a .537 batting average, 51 hits (including 13 doubles, four triples and a school-record 10 home runs), 45 runs and 41 RBI. She helped the Lady Eagles go 22-13-1, win the Class 3A, Area 11 Tournament and qualify for the North Regionals. She signed with Gadsden State last fall.
Named to the Class 3A All-State team at the utility position, Bunt ended the year with a .405 batting average, 49 hits (including 16 doubles and six home runs), 39 RBI and 39 runs with only two strikeouts. She helped the Lady Yellow Jackets win 19 games and place third at the North Regionals. She signed with UT-Chattanooga last year.
West End’s Ricky Smith, Glencoe’s Taylor Talbot and Southside’s Angie Reavis earned co-Coach of the Year honors after leading their teams to a third-place finish at regionals and one victory shy of a berth in the AHSAA state tournament.
The All-Messenger first team pitching staff consists of Southside junior Jadyn Allen, West End senior Josie Bunch, Hokes Bluff freshman Lacey Grace Hall, Glencoe senior Summer Crump and Ashville sophomore Lexi St. John.
In 175 innings of work and against 832 batters, Allen recorded 128 strikeouts and a 4.40 earned run average while posting a 25-6 record.
Bunch posted an ERA of 2.61 while striking out 67 and walking only 12. She went 8-4-1 on the mound while helping the Lady Patriots go 24-12-1 and win a second straight Class 2A Area 10 championship.
Hall’s workload of 165 innings was impressive for a ninth grader. In 29 games, she struck out 161 batters, finished with an ERA of 2.29 and posted a record of 16-10.
Crump went 14-9-3 while striking out 62 and ending up with an ERA of 3.42 in 127 innings.
In 134 innings, St. John recorded an area-best 184 strikeouts and won 11 games.
Joining Bunt and Payne on the first-team infield are Southside senior Ava Ramsey at first base, Glencoe senior Aubrey Maxwell at second base and Glencoe senior Cayse Willett at third base.
A second-team Class 5A All-State selection at designated hitter, Ramsey finished with a .473 batting average, 52 hits (including 11 doubles, 10 home runs and six triples), 52 RBI, 43 runs and 17 steals.
Maxwell batted .381 with 51 hits (including 18 doubles), 51 RBI and 31 runs.
Willett batted .475 with 57 hits (including 23 doubles and eight home runs), 54 RBI and 36 runs.
Joining Burrell on the first-team outfield were Etowah senior Maggy Bennett and Southside junior Bailey Houston. Bennett finished with 46 hits, 31 RBI and 27 runs with a .387 average, while Houston batted .408 with 40 hits, 37 runs and 21 RBI along with 25 steals.
Manning the designated hitter spot is Southside senior shortstop Jovi Marble with a .455 batting average, 50 hits 29 runs, 20 RBI and 28 stolen bases.
At the utility position is Hokes Bluff sophomore catcher Makenna Bennich, who produced 45 hits, 30 RBI and 16 runs while batting .398.
Second team pitching staff
* Kaitlyn Clough, senior, Coosa Christian: 72 innings, 92 strikeouts, 15 walks
* Elizabeth Gilliland, sophomore, Etowah: 80 innings, 63 strikeouts, 8-5 record
Second team infield
* Catcher: Lauren Farmer, senior, Etowah: .351 batting average, 30 hits, two home runs
* First base: Halley Haynes, junior, Sardis: .330 batting average, 34 hits, 19 RBI, 18 runs
* Second base: Jasie Brooks, freshman, Southside: .352 batting average, 38 hits, 30 runs, 26 RBI
* Shortstop: Braylee King, sophomore, West End: .521 batting average, 61 hits, 50 runs, 15 RBI
* Third base: Liddy Falkner, junior, West End: .377 batting average, 43 hits, 36 RBI, 39 runs
Second team outfield
* Emma Croy, senior, Glencoe: .330 batting average, 31 hits, 30 runs, 24 RBI
* Annah Kate Waldrop, senior, Sardis: .370 batting average, 44 hits, 32 runs, 12 RBI, 22 steals
* Bella Owen, sophomore, Etowah: .330 batting average, 38 hits, 36 runs, 24 RBI, 16 steals

Designated hitter
* Jillian Delp, junior, Coosa Christian: .512 batting average, 22 hits, 16 runs, 12 RBI
* Rylann Shaw, freshman, Southside: .319 batting average, 38 hits, 32 RBI, 24 runs
Honorable mention
* Meleah Crane, junior, Coosa Christian: .413 batting average, 19 hits, 14 RBI, 13 runs
First base
* Mya Ellen, junior, Coosa Christian: .500 ba-tting average
* Ashlyn Layfield, senior, Ashville: .351 batting average, 40 hits (15 doubles), 28 RBI, 27 runs
* Jordan Knight, junior, Sardis: .309 batting average, 34 hits, 23 runs, 16 RBI 17 steals
* Brooklyn Mikus, senior, Ashville: .327 batting average, 32 hits, 27 runs, 10 RBI
* Kylee Wilder, freshman, Etowah: .300 batting average, 32 hits
Third base
* Ansley Brashier, senior, Ashville: .315 batting average, 35 hits, 21 RBI, 20 runs
* A.J. Holman, sophomore, Coosa Christian: .319 batting average, 15 hits, 10 runs, 12 RBI
* Rosie Garrett. senior, Southside: .316 batting average, 25 hits, 17 runs, 11 RBI
* Jayda Burgess, senior, Ashville: .370 batting average, 38 hits, 34 runs, 21 RBI

Editor’s note: The All-Messenger softball team was based on statistics sent from local schools. Not all schools provided statistics. 


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