It was a chance for the Lady Seahawks softball program to have a festive evening all to its own, and to honor the hard work of all the players, coaches and fans.
Held June 14 at the Red Pirate in Eastpoint, the evening opened with a salute to the middle school team, which was coached by Melanie Collins.
Jayla Creamer, a rising eighth grader, was named Most Valuable Player of the season. Her teammates included Sierra Kelly, Jada Lockley, Brooklyn Klink, Olivia Maxwell, Ansley Chipman, Princess Turrell, Amelia Schoelles, Kate Ward, Ashton Carey and Jaelyn Allen/
For the junior varsity team, the MVP was Jaelyn Millender, also a rising eighth grader.
This past season, the middle school team qualified for the conference tournament, along with Blountstown, Hosford and Wewa. The JV team had five rainouts, including a three-game tourney, and so played just six games, and were 4-2.
For the varsity team, the Most Valuable Player was freshman Sarah Ham, a pitching ace and one of the team’s best hitters. The Top Offensive Player was rising junior Taylor Mallon, who led the team in batting average, base hits, runs batted in and slugging percentage. The Top Defensive Player was senior Ariel Andrews, who made just one error and several outstanding catches playing center field.
The Coaches Awards went to rising sophomore Michalyn O’Neal, for her outstanding leadership, attitude, commitment and dedication.
“This is a very talented team,” said coach Scott Collins. “We started four middle school players and it’s difficult to play against a team like Liberty County, which fielded seven juniors, two sophomores and a freshman. And yet with no juniors and one upperclassman, we beat Liberty County two out of three times.
“We had a super tough schedule, and we faced better pitching that I can ever remember,” he said. “Everybody we played had a great pitcher. Our middle schoolers were not used to that. We had a trying schedule, and accomplished a lot by making the playoffs, one of four in our region to make the playoffs.”
He said many players will be playing summer ball, and then they’ll be back at it at the high school Oct. 5, where they will be weightlifting.
“We do practice three days a week, and we do that all the way until Christmas break,” Collins said. “Then we start softball on Jan. 4 and we don’t have a let up until late May.
“It’s obviously very exciting, we have a lot of experience mixed with the talent,” he said. “Our number one focus is to make us better with more production out of the bottom of the order. There’s talent there, and we’re going to be a tough team to deal with over the next few years. We’ll have a ton more experience in pressure situations
“I know we’ll be better defensively and we’re going to have stronger arms,” Collins said. “Our arm strengthening program is as good as anybody’s; we even do it on game days.”