Pictured above are the 2013 Lady Braves honored at the banquet. Front Row (L-R): Anna Shelnutt, Alexis Raines, Cali Harrod, Aspen Barker. Back Row (L-R): Shea Person, Shelby O’Neal, Hannah Stephens, Jordan Watson, Shemeka Parks, Ashlyn Summerlin, Jasmine Jacobs, Johanna Beyer.
(Franklin) — The Lady Braves softball team held their annual end of the year banquet Thursday night at Heard High School where many postseason awards were handed out. Not only were team awards given out but several players were recognized for being named to the all-region and all-state teams.
Very impressively, the Lady Braves accounted for 25% of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association All-State First Team as voted on by Class AA coaches from around the state.
Junior FSU commit Cali Harrod was named to the first all-state team for the second consecutive season after another monster offensive season where she batted .539 with eight home runs 32 RBI’s, and set a new team record in triples with seven.
The shortstop also was a big-time thief on the base paths stealing 40 bases while only being thrown out two times. Perhaps the most impressive stat by Cali on the season was a team high 25 walks as many teams respected her bat so much they refused to pitch to her.
Sophomore pitcher and Michigan State commit Jordan Watson also garnered a spot on the first all-state team after another huge season on both offense as well as the mound. Watson seems to always be recognized for her pitching, but in reality her offensive numbers were just as impressive as she was also voted on by her teammates as the Lady Braves Offensive Player of the Year.
Jordan led the team in hitting with a .571 average, eight homers, 47 RBI’s, and 17 doubles while striking out only five times in 105 at at bats. On the mound Watson struck out an unfathomable 206 batters in 187 innings pitched with a minuscule ERA of just 1.20. It was the second year for Watson on the all-state team after being named as an honorable mention player in 2012.
Sophomore third baseman and catcher Anna Shelnutt proved once again that her freshman season was no fluke as she was named to the first team all-state following up on her naming to the second team as a freshman in 2012. Shelnutt led the team in hitting during the regular season with a .577 average and was also recognized by her Lady Braves peers for her defense as she was named as the 2013 Lady Brave Defensive Player of the Year.
Like her teammate Harrod, Shelnutt has already committed to Florida State University and will spend next season behind the plate full time with the graduation of four year starting catcher Jasmine Jacobs.
Jacobs was one of three Lady Brave seniors named to the first team All Region 5-AA squad as voted on by Region 5-AA coaches. Jacobs amazingly earned a spot on the first all region team during all four of her years behind the plate.
Point University commit Shelby O’Neal will be missed very much next season after just one year with the Lady Braves at second base where she totaled 30 RBI’s while striking out just nine times in 100 plate appearances. O’Neal also provided valuable innings on the mound as well in relief of Watson.
One of the most surprising players of the season was senior Shemeka Parks who earned all region accolades in only her second year of varsity fast pitch softball. Head Coach Matt Hornsby spoke highly of Parks at the banquet for her hard work in a sport she seemingly knew very little about as a first time player in 2012. Parks has even been offered a preferred walk-on spot at Anderson College in South Carolina if she decides to accept it.
Watson, Shelnutt, and Harrod rounded out the first team all region with Watson gathering the highest number of votes and being named Region 5-AA Player of the Year.
Sophomores right fielder Alexis Raines and left fielder Madison Whitehead represented the Lady Braves earning spots on the second team all region squad. Raines missed the first team by just a few votes.
Sophomore Johanna Beyer filled in nicely for the departed Alyssa Bishop this season and was named as an honorable mention all region player. Beyer also received many votes from her teammates for her awesome defensive play in center field.
Seniors Shea Person and Ashlyn Summerlin were also recognized by coach Hornsby at the banquet for their strong work ethic, leadership, and contributions to the Lady Brave program over the past four years. Candace Ray was another senior Lady Brave who will be missed next season. Also recognized at the banquet were freshmen Hannah Stephens and Aspen Barker.
The Lady Braves finished third in the state in AA for the second consecutive season and look to return to the State Tournament in Columbus next season where they will be strong contenders for the state title.