Photo: Eight Southside High School seniors signed college athletic scholarships on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Pictured, sitting, from left: Peyton Burrell, softball, Auburn-Montgomery; Lexi Graham, volleyball, Wallace State-Hanceville; Kathryn Webb, volleyball, Snead State. Standing, from left: Rosie Garrett, softball, Gadsden State; Ava Ramsey, softball, Gadsden State; Jack Kilgo, golf, Snead State; Grace Ann Rose, basketball, Faulkner University; Jasie Brooks, softball, Gadsden State. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Several Southside High School seniors extended their academic and athletic careers on Nov. 29 at the school auditorium.
Grace Ann Rose signed with Faulkner University for basketball. This past season, Rose helped a Lady Panther team that had won five games the year before to a 23-8 record, an area championship and the program’s first-ever Elite Eight appearance.
“I’ve been coaching basketball a long time, and Grace Ann has a work ethic unlike any other kid I’ve put through to play college basketball,” said Southside assistant girls basketball coach Kyle Kilgore. “She’s got the intangibles down, and she’s not going to get outworked in the gym. For that reason alone, she deserves what she’s getting today. I’ve had a lot of players who did not make it after their first year of college ball, but Grace Ann will go the distance.”
Peyton Burrell signed with Auburn-Montgomery for softball. In 44 games in centerfield last season, Burrell finished with a .404 batting average and a .481 on-base percentage with 34 steals. She helped the Lady Panthers win the county and area tournaments and make the Class 5A North Regional Tournament quarterfinals. She was named to the All-Messenger and All-Etowah County Schools first teams.
“[AUM] has been very successful in the last few years and plays a very competitive schedule,” said Burrell. “When I visited [the campus], it felt like home.”
Ava Ramsey, Jasie Brooks and Rosie Garrett signed with Gadsden State for softball.
In 45 games in 2023, Ramsey batted .370 with an on-base percentage of .470 along with 40 hits, nine doubles, six home runs, 27 RBI and nine steals. She was also a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. She was first-team All-Etowah County Schools and All-Messenger selection.
“After meeting with him, I had a really good feeling about [Gadsden State softball] coach [Ryan] Clark,” said Ramsey. “I love the environment, and I felt that God is putting me where I need to be.”
Brooks made 2023 All-Etowah County Schools first team and All-Messenger second team after batting .326 with an on-base percentage of .400, 41 hits, eight doubles, 29 RBI and 15 steals.
“I absolutely loved the atmosphere at Gadsden State, and it really felt like home,” said Brooks. “I respected Coach [Ryan] Clark and saw the passion that he has for the [Gadsden State] softball program. I saw how fast the program was progressing, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
A transfer from Hokes Bluff, Garrett made the All-Eto-wah County Schools and All-Messenger second team following her junior season that saw her bat .375 with a .900 fielding percentage.
“I don’t know a ton about Rosie except for what I’ve seen of her lately, and I’m very impressed,” said Southside High athletic director, head softball coach and head volleyball coach Angie Reavis.
“This group of seniors were freshmen when I started here, and they made my job really fun,” said assistant softball coach Sam Johnson. “They love to compete, and they represent our program extremely well, both on and off the field. I’ll be cheering for them at the next level, but not before we take care of some unfinished business this season.”
“What this group of girls has done for me is bring back the joy and motivation for coaching,” said assistant softball coach Mike Lamb. “Anything I’ve asked them to do, they’ve done. I know for a fact that after this year, they are in for the time of their lives while playing college softball.”
Jack Kilgo signed with Snead State for golf. Kilgo last sea-son helped the Panthers make the Class 5A state semifinals.
“I’ve had the privileged of coaching Jack for the last four years, and as for a student-athlete, it doesn’t get any better than Jack,” said Southside golf coach Jake Nichols. “I’ve never seen anybody improve steadily through their four years as Jack has. I’m very proud of him and excited for him to have this opportunity moving forward.”
Kilgo was also a three-year letterman on the school’s bowling team.
“I try not to pick favorites, but Jack is absolutely one of my favorites,” said SHS bowling coach Zach Blume. “I’ve coached a dozen sports over the last 15 years, and one thing that I always try to preach is having a strong mental game.
“Jack learned to channel his emotions, not just for his own game but to psych out his opponents. He’s got the drive and the work ethic that will take him far, but he’s also a great kid.”
Lexi Graham signed with Wallace State-Hanceville for volleyball. This past season, Graham finished with 309 digs, 156 kills and 36 aces while helping the Lady Panthers win their 14th straight Etowah County Schools Tournament title and make the quarterfinal round at the Class 5A North Super Regional Tournament.
Graham joins a Wallace-Hanceville program that has won Alabama Community College Conference Tournament 14 out of the past 15 seasons.
“It’s a really successful program, and the people I met there while I was visiting made me feel welcome and made it feel like home,” said Graham.
Kathryn Webb signed with Snead State for volleyball. As a four-year starter at setter, Webb finished her high school career with 3,434 assists, 695 digs, 298 aces, 2-3 kills and 149 blocks. She is a four-time first-team member of the All-Etowah County Schools and All-Messenger volleyball teams.
“I’ve been blessed with amazing coaches who have helped me develop a love for the game,” said Webb. “I feel that [Snead State volleyball] coach [Christie] Brothers will continue that for me.”
“The athletes that are sitting up here on this stage who I’ve had the opportunity to coach go above and beyond in terms of preparing themselves,” said Reavis. “When you’ve been coaching as long as I have, this group is the reason why I keep doing it. I appreciate every one of them and how hard they work.”