Fayetteville leads 1A-3A All-County team
by ERICH HILKERT
The Fayetteville Lady Wolves made a return trip to the state tournament this season by winning their area and finishing as runner-up in the South Central Regional at Troy. The team fell short of their goal of winning the state title, but they lost to Parrish, the eventual 1A state champion, and Pleasant Home, a team that was one out away from playing for the state title.

For their efforts, the team had six players selected for the All-County softball team for small schools. Head coach Chris Sherbert was chosen by area coaches as the small school Coach of the Year. Sherbert credited his players and two assistant coaches, Michael Guy and Brian Hughes. Sherbert said the team took a step forward this season, but has more work to do for next season.

“The girls knew what to expect,” Sherbert said of the team’s trip to Montgomery. “They weren’t shell shocked and they played like they belonged. It was a good step forward. We’re nowhere where we want to be because we still lost that last game of the year and until we get to the point where we win that last game, we haven’t accomplished our ultimate goal.”

The Daily Home Class 1A-3A Player of the Year is Fayetteville center fielder Courtney Deloach.

“Courtney Deloach—I don’t do MVP because all of the girls are important—but if I did give one, it’d have to be her,” Sherbert said. “She’s a very solid defensive force. Her putout was 86 percent. With that said, she’s very versatile. She’s got good speed. She was our leadoff hitter. I don’t have the total for bases stolen, but I would probably say at least a dozen. She was only thrown out one time.”

In addition to easily being the team’s biggest threat as a base runner and one of the best defensive players, Deloach also led the team in batting average with a season total of .371 and had an impressive .470 on-base percentage.

“I felt like it was probably my best season offensively,” Deloach said. “I took a lot of hitting clinics over the summer to get prepared for this year because I knew scouts would probably be watching at tournaments. It’s important to be leadoff. It’s a lot of pressure. You’ve got to get on base. You’re the first batter and everyone’s watching.”

As good as her numbers were this season, Sherbert said the switch hitter is already working on adding new elements to her game this summer and should be even better next season.

Deloach was selected by area coaches for the All-County first team, along with teammates Peyton Dennis, Haydn Hughes and Brittany Snyder.

Dennis was the team’s starting catcher and finished the season with a .410 on-base percentage and had a defensive putout percentage of 87, although the number is difficult to quantify from the catching position.

“Peyton has been our catcher for three years,” Sherbert said. “She’s been the starting catcher for us and she’s improved tremendously each and every year. This year her biggest improvement was at the bat. For 80 to 90 percent of the season, she batted over .300. That was a very big improvement from the year before. She’s always been a solid defensive player and she was again this year. She’s an all-around player defensively, as well as offensively. She batted most of the time in the second or third spot because if somebody got on, she’s got pretty good contact at the plate and she can also lay down a pretty good bunt for us and move runners over.”

Hughes was officially voted to the first team as an outfielder, although she was the team’s primary pitcher. Sherbert said the main thing he wanted to see from his pitching staff was an improvement in the walks department. Last year, the team averaged six walks per game. This year, they finished the season at 4.33 walk per game and Hughes played a big part in the improvement.

“I’ll go ahead and say she’s on there because of what she did on the mound even though she’s officially on there as an outfielder,” Sherbert said. “She did a good job for us on the mound with this being her first year to take the main heat. Last year, she had spot opportunities, but this year she was the main one. We relied on her heavily, especially towards the end of the year and she came through for us.”

According to Sherbert, she was also good with the bat, estimating she batted more than .300 for 80-90 percent of the season.

Snyder finished her season with a .317 batting average and an on-base percentage of .420, but Sherbert said he values her glove most of all.

“Overall, for the whole year, I’d say she was one of our most solid defensive players,” Sherbert said. “She did have a defensive putout of 83 percent, which is pretty solid. Even though she did statistically have more errors than I wanted her to have, being on the left side of the field at third base she had 91 opportunities to make plays. Our second basemen, they had 50 opportunities to make plays. That’s because the majority of the balls are being hit to the left side of the field. With a shade under 100 opportunities, she got 83 percent. That’s pretty solid.”

Making the honorable mention team were: Hailey Haynes and Lauren Guy.

Haynes didn’t have as high a batting average as in past years, but Sherbert said a lot of that had to do with bad luck. He estimated she hit 15-20 hard line drives, but line drives that were hit right at an opposing fielder.

“Since we went to the Ragland tournament, she turned it on,” Sherbert said. “I’ll bet from the Ragland tournament, which was probably the last three weeks of the season, she batted well over .500 and probably closer to .600. She came on so strong that she finished the year at .351 and she had an on-base percentage of .430 and here’s the phenomenal, 4 percent [strikeout percentage].”

Guy was a key member of the pitching staff, as well as playing the corner outfield spots.

“Lauren pitched for us, played outfield for us,” Sherbert said. “Her and Haydn kind of rotated the pitching duties for quite some time. Toward the end of the year, Haydn emerged as the no. 1. Batting-wise, she improved tremendously from last year to this year. I’d have to say for most of the year she was hitting over .300.”

TC Central made to the playoff for the first time in several seasons, making it to the South-Central Regionals at Troy and defeating Loachapoka before being eliminated by Wadley.

Savona Garrett was selected for the All-County first team, while Tiarrial Duncan and Brittany Sillmon were selected to the honorable mention team.

TC Central head coach Crystal Gooden is pleased to return two versatile players who have similar qualities in Garrett and Duncan.

“Savona is a great all-around player,” Gooden said. “She loves the game. She has a great time playing the game and that’s evident when you see her playing, she is smiling every game. She’s just one of those players that you can count on to come through each and every time defensively and offensively. Tiarrial and Savona both love the game. [Tiarrial] has a great attitude, she’s very versatile, can play just about any position, she’s willing to and great at the positions she plays. I really can’t say enough about those two girls and their attitudes and abilities. I’m just really excited they’ll be back next year.”

Gooden said the team will miss Sillmon, who was the only season for the Lady Fighting Tigers.

“Brittany was the only senior this year,” Gooden said. “She made it look easy on second base. We just kind of took for granted that she was over there. We got to looking at the numbers and realized she was doing some pretty good damage at second base, and she was also one of our best offensive players as well.

The B.B. Comer Lady Tigers fell short of their goals, but still managed to show great improvement.

“We didn’t have the kind of season we were hoping for, but we did succeed in winning more games this year than we did in the previous three years combined,” head coach Mike Richardson said. “So, there was progress.”

The Lady Tiger players Shernelia Cook, Laura Machen, and Jessica Johnson made All-County first team, while Olivia Patterson made the Honorable Mention team.

Cook made the team as a pitcher, but Richardson said she was one the team’s best hitters.

“Shernelia came back from an ACL injury that she had last season,” Richardson said. “She filled a lot of different roles for us. She pitched, played shortstop and was probably our best offensive weapon. She had a couple home runs. She’s a very good contact hitter most of the time.”

Richardson said Machen also played multiple positions for the team, but is especially strong as a pitcher.

“She’s a very heady ball player,” Richardson said. “She gets it. She understands the game. Laura is a true pitcher. Laura is a ground ball, pop fly pitcher. I wish we had been able to play a little better solid defense behind her because she’s exactly what you want on the mound when you’re against really good-hitting teams because she keeps you off-balance.”

Freshmen Jessica Johnson was another versatile player for the Lady Tigers, thriving in particular in the middle infield.

“As a ninth grader coming in, she had to take on a bigger role when we lost a senior who left the team midseason,” Richardson said. “Jessica was actually playing center field. As a coach, that’s one of my key positions. I kept telling her all along that she’s the shortstop of the future and of course, the future was not next year; it was this year. She stepped in and she played very well.”

For the Winterboro Lady Bulldogs, Kyra Pointer and Jasmine Richardson were selected for All-County first team, while Katie Roach and Jacolby McMeans made the Honorable Mention team.

Pointer played primarily left field for the team, while also playing some in center field.

“At the plate, I had a little bit of trouble with my right shoulder because I tore my ligament,” Pointer said. “When I swung, my bat shoulder dropped. As for the outfield, I caught every ball and I did what I was supposed to do. For us losing, I couldn’t help being mad, but I was happy that we did what we could.”

Contact Erich Hilkert

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