PENDLETON — There was plenty to cheer for this year on the softball diamonds in South Madison County. Both Pendleton Heights and Lapel had their high points and low points, but both teams were entertaining to watch and provided many fine individual performances.
I am excited, therefore, to announce the first Pendleton Times-Post All-South Madison County softball team, to be comprised of just the Arabians and Bulldogs who stood out this year, and there were plenty. This is a team coaches Rob Davis and Scott Rich could win a whole lot of games with.
So, here is my team, but first a couple of awards for players who didn’t make the starting 11 but are deserving of recognition.
Freshman of the Year: Arabian Ally Hall made some noise at the plate at the end of the year, but Lapel’s Megan Sundheimer was in the starting lineup from Day 1. Following a slow start, Sundheimer finished as a respectable .250 hitter with three doubles and eight RBI.
Newcomer of the Year: Amanda White did not get much playing time last year as a freshman for Pendleton Heights but made plenty of noise this season as the team’s everyday 2B. She batted .314 with four home runs and 20 RBI while playing solid defensively, posting a .930 fielding percentage.
The starting 11, in order of position number:
P-Audrey Ricker (Pendleton Heights): The senior, bound for Trinity Christian College, locked up her spot on this team when she led the Arabians to the Madison County championship with three complete-game wins in four days. Ricker finished the season with a 12-5 record and an ERA of 2.61 and threw a total of 1,433 pitches.
P-Brooke Daniels (Lapel): For the first time in her career, Daniels was able to stay healthy all year, and it showed. She completed eight of her 11 starts, picking up 52 strikeouts in 78.2 innings. Headed to Blackburn College, Daniels was 5-7 this season with a 4.98 ERA.
C-Jasmine Hazelbaker (Lapel): The thunder in the middle of the Bulldog lineup, Hazelbaker hit .425 this season while leading Lapel in HR with four and RBI with 31. With an OPS of 1.180, Hazelbaker struck out just four times in 103 plate appearances this season.
1B-Addie Bailey (Lapel): There was no “sophomore jinx” for Bailey, who led Lapel in hitting at .426 and in hits with 40. She adapted to a late-season role as leadoff hitter and posted a .495 on-base percentage.
2B-Sophie Cline (Lapel): With another year to go, Cline will have some impressive career numbers before she moves on from Lapel. She led the team in homers again this year with five and in doubles with seven while driving in 24 runs.
3B-Ashley King (Pendleton Heights): Arguably, King was the team’s MVP this season as a senior. She batted .443 on the year with a team-best 15 doubles and 31 RBI, which tied her for the team lead. King handled “the hot corner” just fine with a .902 fielding percentage.
SS-Lauren Landes (Pendleton Heights): In my opinion, the junior is not only the starting shortstop, she’s also the Player of the Year in the area. As the leadoff hitter, she not only set the table but cleared it as well. She led the Arabians in batting average (.481), home runs (5), triples (8), hits (52), RBI (31), and in OPS with a ridiculous 1.361.
OF-Savannah Hawhee (Pendleton Heights), Taylor Murdock (Lapel) and Kylie Rich (Lapel): With this trio, not many balls are going to land in the grass. All three have the speed of centerfielders with cannons for arms. Hawhee hit .329 this season and committed zero errors in 46 total chances. Murdock hit .400 with three HR and led Lapel with four triples, while Rich hit a cool .407 and led the Bulldogs with 32 runs scored and six stolen bases.
DP-Kelsey Sturgeon (Pendleton Heights): A quality pitcher as well, Sturgeon supplied a little muscle to the middle of the Arabian batting order. She hit .347 this season with a pair of home runs and drove in 18. And if you need a third pitcher, you could do a lot worse. The junior was 4-3 this season with a fine 2.75 ERA.
Yeah, I’ll take my chances with that lineup.