My choices for an All-First Region softball team are a little different than that voted on by the coaches for the actual awards. But, I went ahead and picked out some of the top players in the region based on what I have SEEN, not necessarily based on year-round statistics. I have not watched every team play, therefore I might be missing a stud here or there. But, again, based on the games I have watched, and the performances of the players during THOSE games, my picks for postseason accolades go a little like this:
Allee Moore, short stop, Marshall County: My jaw dropped when Moore told me she was just a sophomore playing in the infield. Once a catcher for Marshall, Moore was moved to short stop this season to fill holes left by graduation. Her arm is much needed on the left side of the field, and her glove is quick. Her bat is deceptively good, all the while batting in the seven-hole.
Lauren Benson, third base, Calloway County: Benson is active at the position, seems to have plenty of vocal leadership even as a sophomore, and has a nice bat, as well, for the Lakers.
Morgan Harrell, catcher, Reidland: Harrell doesn’t get to use her rocket arm too much since pitcher Cassee Layne tends to keep opposing players off base. But at last count, Harrell was batting over .400 and had six home runs this season. Late in the season, she seemed to be best in clutch situations.
Molly Hargrove, pitcher, Ballard Memorial: To barely pitch a varsity game before her senior year, Hargrove made sure not an ounce was missing in the circle after last year’s graduation of hard-thrower Alexis Rodgers. Hargrove threw every bit as hard it seemed, this season, and seemed to adore her transition from center field to the circle. The slap hitter was batting over .500 at the end of the season.
Karlee Wilson, sshort stop, Calloway County: Wilson, also just a sophomore, is a rising talent at the position with a rocket arm and quick feet. Just to watch her, you can tell she has plenty of softball savvy and enough sense at the plate to make things happen.
Brooke Yates, pitcher, Hickman County: Likely the most underrated player in the region the last few seasons, Yates had a tremendous senior season after sustaining a back injury her junior year. While her pitching was a big part of the Falcons’ success this season, her bat and base running abilities certainly didn’t hurt the cause, either.
Kelleigh Jones, pitcher, Heath: Jones has been a stalwart for the Pirates for the past three seasons, with plenty of pitches and a steady change up. Her real strength lies in her utilities: Her bat is just as trusty as any in the region, and the one time I watched her play in right field, she rolled on the ground for two catches.
At right, Emily Montgomery throws back to third base while Kelleigh Jones backs up the plate in Heath's First District championship loss. Photo by Sun photographer John Wright.
Emily Montgomery, catcher, Heath: Another one of the all-around best players in the region. Montgomery’s bat speaks every bit as loudly as her catching ability, which she does exceptionally.
Kendra Sanders, center field, Lone Oak: While her bat wasn’t quite “on” at the end of the season, Sanders has the capabilities to send the ball in the outfield (or at least just foul off dozens of pitches to tire out opposing pitchers until she gets what she likes) while possessing great speed and movement of her own in center field.
Pitcher of the Year: Cassee Layne, Reidland. While Layne is still a little bit from being back to her old self afterr multiple illnesses and injuries the past year, she’s still an impressive force in the circle. Her talent is most notable when she’s gone: In the few big games the Greyhounds played without her throwing pitches, things didn’t go so well, and the team generally seems to play better while she’s throwing. Her ability to bring the team together is more impressive than any one of her curving pitches.
Coach of the Year: Shane Bizzle. Not a bad season to get Hickman County it’s first fast pitch softball regional tournament victory, all the while dealing with late-in-the-season injuries and illnesses. Photo by Sun photographer John Wright.
The Honorable Mention list (which should probably just be lumped into the All-Region list, since there’s not much that separates the talented players in the region, anyway)
Brittany Fox, right field, Calloway County: Fox, a senior, has also been an anchor in the outfield for the Lakers the past few years, also carrying weight as a No. 5 hitter in the line up.
Kristen Boggess, catcher, Calloway County: With her senior season approaching, look for the dynamic hitter to be one of the best catchers in the region.
Buzz Ray, right field, Marshall County: Ray could easily be on the “first” team list with her powerful hitting and athleticism, but is just a freshman this season. She will be trouble for the next three seasons.
Taylor Sheerer, center field, Heath: Another likely “first” teamer, Sheerer’s offense seemed a little frustrated by the end of the season, but she still, without a doubt, possesses one of the strongest arms in the region.
Sarah Kreuter, short stop, Lone Oak: Only a freshman, Kreuter made great plays at her position this season, and had one of the biggest bats on the team.
Heather Hayden, center field, Reidland: Hayden doesn’t get enough credit, being stuck in the bottom of Reidland’s line up and often substituted for bigger hitters. But no one is better at putting down a more perfect bunt, and having enough speed to turn it into a hit rather than a sacrifice.
Amanda Wade and Casey Wade, pitchers, Graves County: OK, so it’s unfair to lump the sisters into one category, but their play is so similar, you can’t help it. Both pitch for the Eagles, though Amanda plays first and Casey plays short when each is not in the circle. Their bats are a little sporadic, but when they connect, they’ve got plenty of power.
Ashley Dailey, catcher, Mayfield: With Dailey behind the plate, expect to see Mayfield make it to the postseason in the next two seasons if she can get some company out in the field. Dailey comes up the plate ready to hit, and in the game and a half I watched her play, is completely confident in her own abilities.