BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Sports Writers Association named Cullman’s Owen Lovell the 2016 Mr. Baseball Award recipient and Curry’s Ashlee Swindle captured the 206 Miss Softball Award during Sunday’s annual banquet.
The ASWA also honored Brantley softball player Alex Wilcox with the inaugural Jimmy Smothers Courage Award. Smothers, the long-time sports editor of the Gadsden Times and much loved leader in the ASWA for more than 50 years, died in the past year. He was inducted into the ASWA Hall of Fame, the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Lovell helped Cullman to the Class 6A state finals this season batting .392 with 14 home runs, 64 RBIs, 24 stolen bases and 15 doubles. The junior center fielder and Alabama commitment also pitched 51 innings compiling a 7-1 record with 63 strikeouts, three shutouts and a 1.51 ERA.
Lovell heads the Super All-State team and is joined by Florence’s Brax Garrett, last year’s Mr. Baseball recipient and second to Lovell in the 2016 balloting. Garrett, a left-handed pitcher, was the highest drafted selection from the state in the 2016 Professional Baseball Draft. He was selected in the first round by the Miami Marlins as the seventh pick overall. Also named to the Super All-State squad were Decatur’s Tanner Burns, Sparkman’s Brock Anderson, Russellville’s Judd Ward, Vestavia Hills’ Sonny Potter, American Christian’s Deacon Medders, UMS-Wright’s Tanner Allen, Helena’s Sam Praytor and Corner’s Jackson Tavel.
Auburn signee Swindle (45-2) led Curry to its second straight Class 4A softball championship in 2016. The 2015 title was the first of any kind in school history. She pitched 262 2/3 of the team’s 285 total innings this season, striking out 385 and walking 34 while allowing only 22 earned runs for an 0.59 ERA. Opponents batted .132 with a .169 on-base percentage, managing only 123 hits in 973 batters faced.
Swindle posted the best numbers of her career at the plate, batting .557 with 13 home runs and team best 86 RBIs. She headlines the ASWA 2016 Super All-State softball team. Also named to the squad by th state’s sportswriters were Brantley’s Alex Wilcox, Sumiton Christian’s Kendall Beth Sides and Jenna Ergle, Spain Park’s Mary Katherine Tedder, Elmore County’s Elissa Brown, Baker’s Victoria Ortiz, Demopolis’ Abby Latham, Cullman’s Claire Jenkins and Macon-East’s Paxton Searle of the AISA.
Lovell is the 18th Mr. Baseball and second Cullman player to win the award after Keegan Thompson was named the 2013 recipient. No player has repeated as Mr. Baseball, and it’s the first time any school has produced multiple winners.
Swindle is the 14th Miss Softball and first Curry player to earn the honor. Grissom’s Anna Thompson is the only two-time Miss Softball winner, earning the award in 2004 and 2006. Pisgah, Hueytown and Baker have had multiple winners in the 14-year history of the award. Pisgah’s Holly Currie won the first Miss Softball award in 2003 and Shelby Holley won in 2011. Hueytown’s Lindsey Dunlap won in 2008 and Leigh Streetman in 2010 while Baker’s Tara Donaldson won in 2005 and Lacey Sumerlin in 2015.
Brantley’s Wilcox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on Christmas Day and fought through nine weeks of chemotherapy, missing only about nine games during the Bulldogs’ run to their third straight Class 1A championship. She’s the ASWA Class 1A Hitter and Player of the Year and was selected to the Super All-State team, finishing second to Swindle in Miss Softball voting.
2016 ASWA Super All-State Baseball Team
Mr. Baseball: Owen Lovell, Cullman
Brax Garrett, Florence
Tanner Burns, Decatur
Brock Anderson, Sparkman
Judd Ward, Russellville
Sonny Potter, Vestavia Hills
Deacon Medders, American Christian
Tanner Allen, UMS-Wright
Sam Praytor, Helena
Jackson Tavel, Corner
ASWA Mr. Baseball Winners
2016: Owen Lovell, Cullman
2015: Brax Garrett, Florence
2014: Cody Reed, Ardmore
2013: Keegan Thompson, Cullman
2012: Mikey White, Spain Park
2011: Daniel Koger, Huntsville
2010: Daryl Norris, Fairhope
2009: Luke Bole, Hartselle
2008: Tyler Stovall, Hokes Bluff
2007: John David Smelser, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
2006: Del Howell, American Christian
2005: Colby Rasmus, Russell County
2004: Patrick White, Daphne
2003: Joey Doan, Baker
2002: Allen Ponder, Lee-Scott Academy
2001: Eric West, Southside-Gadsden
2000: Wade Miller, G.W. Long
1999: Matthew Maniscalco, Oxford
2016 ASWA Super All-State Softball Team
Miss Softball: Ashlee Swindle, Curry
Alex Wilcox, Brantley
Kendall Beth Sides, Sumiton Christian
Mary Katherine Tedder, Spain Park
Jenna Ergle, Sumiton Christian
Elissa Brown, Elmore County
Victoria Ortiz, Baker
Abby Latham, Demopolis
Claire Jenkins, Cullman
ASWA Miss Softball Winners
2016: Ashlee Swindle, Curry
2015: Lacey Sumerlin, Baker
2014: Madi Moore, Winfield
2013: Kasey Cooper, Dothan
2012: Haylie McCleney, Mortimer Jordan
2011: Shelby Holley, Pisgah
2010: Leigh Streetman, Hueytown
2009: Hilary Phillips, Ider
2008: Lindsey Dunlap, Hueytown
2007: Whitney Larsen, Vestavia Hills
2006: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2005: Tara Donaldson, Baker
2004: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2003: Holly Currie, Pisgah
CLASS 5A: Springville 6, Helena 2
Defending state champion Springville lost its first-round game to Beauregard 4-1, then clawed out of loser’s bracket by winning six straight games to claim the AHSAA Class 5A state softball championship Thursday night at Lagoon Park.
The Lady Tigers (40-13) of Coach Chris Williams rebounded to beat Russellville (13-3), Rehobeth (3-2), Alexandria (9-0) and Marbury (5-0) to set up a showdown with winner’s bracket champion Helena (32-17). Springville won 6-3 in the finals to set up a second game in the double elimination tourney. The Lady Tigers scored six runs in the last two innings to win the state title over the Huskies 6-2.
Winning pitcher Abby Swaney scattered seven hits and struck out three to get the win. Lead-off hitter Meg Sullivan slugged a two-run homer, Hanna Walker had one hit and two RBIs, Kaylee Chapman had three hits with a double and two runs scored, and Piper Long also had two hits or Springville.
Helen’s Mekhi Mayfield had a double and single and Reagan Curtis had two hits for Coach Heidi Kouveras’ Huskies. Avery Barnett pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowed nine hits and struck out one to get the championship game loss.
CLASS 4A: Curry 5, LAMP 0
Curry (44-4), coached by Phillip Smith, outscored four opponents 26-2 en route to the school’s first Class 4A state softball championship Thursday night at Lagoon Park. The Yellow Jackets beat LAMP of Montgomery 5-0 in the championship game as Class 4A tourney MVP Ashlee Swindle hurled a five-hit shutout and struck out 12. She walked only one.
Swindle also slugged a two-run homer. Teammates Emily Aaron and Justus Perry also hit solo homers for the hard-hitting Jackets. Reagan Watkins had one hit at the plate and pitched 4 1/3 innings to get the final-game loss.
Curry went 4-0 in the state tourney beating Montgomery-Catholic (11-1), Handley (9-1) and Central-Florence (1-0) to reach the finals. LAMP (44-6), coached by Anthony Norris, beat Carbon Hill (8-2), then lost to Central Florence (3-2) before battling out of the loser’s bracket with wins over Montgomery Catholic (1-0), Handley (3-1) and Central-Florence (5-2) to reach the championship game.
Joining Swindle on the 4A All-Tourney Team were Perry, Aaron and Kaylee Horton of Curry, Watkins, Madison Lockwood and Courtney Ray of LAMP, Laken Distenfano of Central-Florence, Loni Veal, Handley, and Michaelyn Foster, Montgomery Catholic.
2016 SOFTBALL ALL-STAR ROSTERS
Central - Florence
Mary Katherine Tedder
Bob Jones (Administrative)
2016 BASEBALL ALL-STAR ROSTERS
P / OF
Saint James (Administrative)
Miller, T. R.
Long, G. W.
Central - Phenix City
MONTGOMERY – The North and South teams split the annual double-header Tuesday at the AHSAA All-Star Softball Series in Montgomery. After the South got a 4-3 win in the first game, the North responded with a 1-0 victory that was cut short due to lightening in the top of the fifth inning. With the split, the North own a 23-10-3 record in the all-time series.
Elissa Brown’s two-run double to centerfield gave the South a walk-off victory in the opener. The winning hit came of North pitcher Bailey Murphy, who had just given her team a 3-2 lead with a two-run homerun to right field in the top of the sixth.
The South got a baserunner in the bottom of the seventh when Davidson’s Sara Lowther reached on a throwing error to lead off the frame. Leroy’s Brittney Minor doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. After Murphy recorded back-to-back strikeouts, Brown came to the plate and battled to a 3-2 count. She connected on a ball that went just left of center for the game-winner.
Murphy finished the first game 2-for-2 at the plate with a single to go along with her homer. She was named MVP for the North.
The South had a 2-0 lead after plating single runs in the bottom of the first and fourth innings. The North finally broke through with a run in the top of the fifth. Wilson’s Madison Daniel led off the inning with a single. She reached second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored when Pisgah’s Hannahstaysia Weaver singled to the pitcher. The South first baseman muffed the throw, allowing Daniel to score and cut the lead to 2-1.
The score stayed the same until Murphy’s two-run homer. Brown was named MVP for the South. The Elmore County standout was 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored.
In the second game, Florence standout Ellison Barrett gave the North a 1-0 lead with a single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. It would prove to be the only score of the game, which featured a 1:18 minute lightening delay in the second inning. With the North holding the one-run lead in the top of the fifth, another lightning strike prompted officials to call the game.
Several area players participated in the action. Barrett finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. She also pitched two innings without yielding a hit. Daniel was also 1-for-2 on the day.
West Morgan’s Sydney Sanders also saw action, along with Hartselle’s Hope Cain and Athens’ Makayley Cain.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 7, 2015) – Rules changes for the 2016 baseball and softball seasons were made at rules committee meetings last month in Indianapolis. Those changes were subsequently approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Board of Directors.
Beginning with the 2016 season, umpires will be required to issue a warning to coaches before restriction to the bench/dugout or ejecting them as part of a new penalty progression to promote preventive officiating.
The revision to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty was one of two changes recommended by the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee at its June 7-9 meeting.
Previously, issuing a warning to an offending coach was optional for umpires, who will now restrict to the bench/dugout or eject coaches who commit a violation after previously being warned for a minor offense. However, coaches can still be ejected on a first offense if it is deemed to be major.
Also part of the modification to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty, coaches who receive a written warning (Rule 10-2-3) will be restricted to the bench and/or dugout for the remainder of the game.
“The new rule change has initiated a penalty progression, starting with a written warning, restriction to the bench/dugout and subsequent ejection from the contest,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee.
The changes to Rule 3-3-1 Penalty will help to de-escalate contentious situations and allow coaches to dictate their status in the game by their behavior, Hopkins said.
“A successful game official practices preventive officiating, and this new penalty progression will allow the official to issue penalties that give the coach the opportunity to remain in the game and teach his players.”
The other change approved by the Baseball Rules Committee is an addition to Rule 3-3-1. Article “q” will state that a coach, player, substitute, attendant or other bench personnel shall not “have any physical contact, spitting, kicking of dirt or any other physical action directed toward an umpire.” The addition of article “q” serves to clarify other behaviors that would result in an ejection from the game, Hopkins said.
“Bad behavior that is being imitated from other levels has no place in education-based athletics and will not be tolerated,” Hopkins said. “If we are to continue to use sport to teach life lessons, then we have to ensure that appropriate behavior and conduct are modeled from those adults in the role of coach/teacher.”
In addition to the two rules changes, the Baseball Rules Committee approved three Points of Emphasis for the 2016 season. Points of emphasis are developed by NFHS rules committees and should receive special focus and attention by officials, coaches, players, fans and other leaders within the high school setting.
Points of Emphasis developed by the Baseball Rules Committee for the 2016 season are as follows:
In softball, one rule change was recommended by the NFHS Softball Rules Committee at its June 15-17 meeting. In the new Article 4 of Rule 2-57, the committee provided a standard definition of a “projected” substitute.
Rule 3-3-3 prohibits the use of a projected substitute, which is now defined in the new article as “a player who does not immediately participate in the game.”
“There has been some confusion among both officials and coaches about substitution procedure,” said Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee. “Therefore, the committee felt it was necessary to clear up that process and provide coaches and officials with a standard definition of a projected substitute.”
The following Points of Emphasis were approved by the Softball Rules Committee:
According to the NFHS Athletics Participation Survey, baseball is the fourth-most popular sport for boys at the high school level with 482,629 participants in 15,789 schools. Fast-pitch softball is the fifth-most popular sport for girls with 364,297 participants in 15,225 schools during the 2013-14 season.