November 17, 2017

Prestigious Postseason Awards Rain Down on Lady Braves

GACA Class AA Coach of the Year Matt Hornsby (L) with GACA Class AA Player of the Year Cali Harrod (R)

GACA Class AA Coach of the Year Matt Hornsby (L) with GACA Class AA Player of the Year Cali Harrod (R)

(Franklin) — The trophy cases of several members of the 2014 Class AA State Champion Lady Braves softball team have grown over the past few weeks with the addition of some well-deserved hardware including some of the biggest awards ever received by any Heard County athletes in history.

Not surprisingly, at the heart of the list of those honored is senior shortstop Cali Harrod.

After leading her squad to the first state title in school history, Harrod was recognized with the state’s biggest honor when she was named by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association as the 2014 Class AA Player of the Year after being named to the GACA first team during her sophomore and junior efforts.

Harrod finished yet another stellar season campaign with a .527 batting average, 58 hits, 11 doubles, six home runs, two triples, 22 walks, 48 runs scored and 28 RBI’s.

The Florida State commit also used her awesome speed to steal 42 bases in 43 attempts and will leave Heard County as the school record holder in several season and career categories.

She was also recognized by the Times-Georgian in Carrollton last week as their All-Area MVP for the 2014 season as well as being selected First team All Region 5-AA for the fourth consecutive time.

Another highly honored Lady Brave was of course Jordan Watson who was recognized by the region head coaches as both the Region 5-AA Player of the Year and the Pitcher of the Year — a very rare combination in the world of softball.

Despite an extremely challenging regular season schedule featuring numerous contests with the best teams in the state in the highest classifications,Watson put together yet another strong stat line finishing her junior season with a 27-9 record, 1.21 ERA with 169 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 196.2 total innings pitched.

The junior hurler also proved most valuable when it really counted as she dominated in the postseason allowing only two runs during the state playoffs while putting together an amazing string of 68+ innings without allowing an earned run.

At the plate, she was nearly as dominant batting .505 with seven home runs, ten doubles, and 40 RBI’s from the heart of the order.

Watson, who was also selected first team all-state for the second straight year by the GACA has already committed to play her college softball at Michigan State University but hopes to first lead the Lady Braves to a second state title in 2015. She was also selected by the Times-Georgian as All-Area Co-Pitcher of the Year along with Taylor Funk from Central High School.

GACA 1st Team All-State Catcher Anna Shelnutt (L) and GACA 1st Team All-State Pitcher Jordan Watson (R)

GACA 1st Team All-State Catcher Anna Shelnutt (L) and GACA 1st Team All-State Pitcher Jordan Watson (R)

Lady Brave fifth year head coach Matt Hornsby received huge postseason accolades along with his girls including being named the Class AA Coach of the Year by the GACA and All-Area Co-Coach of the Year by the Times-Georgian along with Carrollton head coach Lisa Phillips.

Hornsby was the mastermind behind the difficult regular season schedule that ultimately led to the school’s first ever state championship. Hornsby has amassed an outstanding record of 131-39-1 — for a winning percentage of .813 during his five seasons at the helm of the Lady Braves.

Another player committed to the Florida State Seminoles is Lady Brave junior catcher Anna Shelnutt and she was again recognized by the GACA as a first team catcher for the second straight year and third year overall after making the second team as only a freshman in 2012.

Shelnutt finished the season with a .423 batting average, including a homer and 11 doubles while throwing out an uber impressive 12 out of 16 base runners attempting to steal. She was also named first team all-region for her third consecutive season.

Junior center fielder Johanna Beyer was also rewarded for her tremendous effort in 2014 as she was named to the GACA All-State First Team as an outfielder. Beyer had a major breakout season for Hornsby finishing as one of the top defensive players in the state.

At the dish, Beyer batted .348 with three home runs, a team-high three triples, 25 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 15 tries. A key homer by Beyer versus Vidalia in Columbus was crucial in landing the Lady Braves a spot in the state title game.

Juniors Alexis Raines and Madison Whitehead were each named to the GACA second team all-state and first team all-region after strong seasons both in the field and at the plate.

Raines batted .347 with two homers, four doubles, 26 runs, and 15 RBI’s while stealing six of seven on the base paths.

Whitehead batted .316 with a home run, 17 runs scored, and 13 RBI’s with 10 stolen bases. Whitehead’s lone home run also came at an opportune time during the winner’s bracket final versus Vidalia in Columbus.

GACA 1st Team All-State Outfielder Johanna Beyer

GACA 1st Team All-State Outfielder Johanna Beyer

Rounding out the all-region selections for the Lady Braves were a pair of corner-infielder sophomores who also received honorable mentions on the all-state squad by the GACA.

Hannah Sanders and Hannah Stephens both played key roles at the plate in the postseason run at state as well as in the field.

Sanders finished the season with a .262 batting average while blasting seven home runs and driving in 32 runs second only to Watson. Sanders also had 22 runs scored and seven doubles while manning the very important “hot corner” at third base during her first varsity season.

Stephens seemed to come up with key hit after key hit as the team battled its way to Columbus. She finished with a .313 batting average, 18 runs scored, and 16 RBI’s.

Stephens was named first team all-region and Sanders was chosen for the second team. These two sophomores will anchor Hornsby’s infield for the next two years.

 

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