The team’s MVP, Sarah Ham, stands with her parents, Allan and Katrina Ham. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Softballers celebrate winning season

It was a great year for Franklin County softball, with a 19-9 record and a sixth-place ranking in Florida Class 1A, and the team celebrated it May 31 with a banquet at St. James Bay.

Dining on fried fish and shrimp, and all the trimmings, the middle school, junior varsity and varsity teams and their parents sat down for a chance to review the past year, and look forward to the next season.

Defensive Player of the Year Lilah Millender, right, and Lexi Webb, Offensive Player of the Year, shared dinner together. [ David Adlersteinb | The Times ]

For the young middle school players, middle school assistant coach Taylor Stalnaker handled the honors, as the team’s coach, Melanie Collins had to work at her job at an ice cream shop on St. George Island.

Awarded the top medals as the JV Players of the Year were Whitney Polous, for her offensive prowess, and Jayla Creamer, for her skills on defense. 

Assistant coach Taylor Stalnaker, left, gives an award to JV Defensive Player of the Year Jayla Creamer. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

It was then time for coach Scott Collins to hand out the awards for the varsity players.

“We start in October and go all the way deep into May,” he said. “It’s an enormous amount of time and sacrifice.”

He began by praising a lesser known player, sophomore Charity Larkin, who was absent due to having been in a car accident earlier in the day on the St. George Island bridge that fortunately did not result in her injury. She received the Coaches Award, for her outstanding attitude, work ethic and dedication.

Eighth grader Ashton Carey, who was often called upon as a pinch runner, then received the Baserunning Award. Sixth grader Shasta Butler, who was called in to play third base, was the Rookie of the Year, as she batted close to .300 during her 22 games.

Coach Scott Collins, left, smiles as he presents Ryan Brown with Offensive Player of the Year honors. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

The Hustle Award went to eighth grader Jaelyn Millender.

Named the Most Improved player was sophomore Raegan Dempsey, who raised her batting average by about 150 points from the year before. 

The Silver Slugger awards, for their clutch hitting, went to sophomore Michalyn O’Neal and to seventh grader Addison Mallon.

Mallon and her older sister, junior Taylor Mallon, who received the award for the most Outstanding Arm, will not be with the team next year, as the family is relocating to Bay County.

Assistant coach Taylor Stalnaker, left, gives an award to JV Offensive Player of the Year Whitney Polous. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

The Defensive Award went to freshman Averie Johnson, who also earned Scholar Athlete honors for her academic achievement.

The coaches served up two offensive Player of the Year awards, to freshman Lexi Webb, who led the team in doubles, and to sophomore Rytan Brown, who had the top batting average and led the team in stolen bases. Brown also won’t be with the team next season, as her family is relocating to Tampa.

The Defensive Player of the Year award went to eighth grader Lilah Millender, who committed just one error in the busy position at second base.

The Most Valuable Player award, to no one’s surprise, went to sophomore Sarah Ham, who won every game on the mound for the Lady Seahawks and was a potent threat at the plate.

Collins also handed out an award to parent Wayne Webb, for his dedication with all aspects of scoring and recordkeeping.

The coach had high praise for his team, and is eying a great season next year with his crew of young talent.

“If you’re not playing travel ball, you need to be playing travel ball,” he told his players.

He said the team plans to double the size of the backstop nets, to help cut down on the cost of lost balls, which run about $10 each.

Season Stats

17Ryan Brown (So)27.49531469100
11Alexis Webb (Fr)28.438835271000
5Addison Mallon (8th)27.38431339710
15Sarah Ham (So)28.3603332411117
24Taylor Mallon (Jr)28.357213020542
3Michalyn O’Neal (So)28.347132524201
7Lilah Millender (Fr)28.3302129144511
1Shasta Butler (6th)22.278212212620
44Raegan Dempsey (So)25.2676128002
27Averie Johnson (Fr)28.241574000
2Jaelyn Millender (7th)12.200322100
23Charity Larkin (So)22.192853300
2Whitney Polous (7th)2.000111000
14Ashton Carey (7th)13.0005214000

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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