Hartselle players, Priceville's Hopkins take top honors
Look for the All-Area softball team next week
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
The votes have been counted and the Hartselle Enquirer today announces who the best baseball players in the area were during the 2005 season.
Area coaches nominated some of their own players as well as voting for other area players they felt had outstanding seasons.
Coach of the Year
Priceville's Shane Hopkins beat out a field of outstanding coaches. Hopkins took his Bulldogs further into the state playoffs than any Priceville baseball team had gone before. Priceville reached the third round, quite an accomplishment considering the program's youth. This year was the first season Hopkins worked with a senior class of players.
Hopkins' club also set a school record for wins as they finished at 25-15.
Four of those coaches took their teams to the state playoffs in their respective classifications.
Hartselle's William Booth did what he does best, He won and won and won. This season the Tigers won 39 games and reached the second round of the state playoffs before falling on the road to eventual finalist Pinson Valley. Booth surpassed the 600-win mark this season, becoming only the second coach in state history to do so. Next season he will surely surpass the state mark of 647 career wins. Booth enters 2006 with 623 wins, only 24 wins short of tying the mark.
Falkville's Jeff Andrews guided his Blue Devils to their second straight area title and a trip to the postseason with a 20-9 mark.
Danville's Jay Stanley saw his Hawks recover from a sub-500 record in midseason to reach the 3A playoffs, while winning 17-of-31 games.
Pitcher of the Year
Hartselle senior Andrew Reeves collected 12 wins, including two in the state playoffs and recorded two saves. Those numbers and a ratio of more than a strikeout per inning were numbers just too hard to ignore. Reeves fanned 87 batters in 74 innings this season. He complied a 2.33 ERA and worked in relief when his
club needed him to. Reeves signed last week with the University of Alabama Huntsville.
Player of the Year
Hartselle senior Chris Wiley had an outstanding season and an even better postseason.
Wiley ended the season with a .400 batting average, smashed seven home runs, scored 59 times and drove in 47 runs, while playing steady defense at his catcher's position.
Wiley swiped 12-of-14 bases stealing attempts, while collecting 60 hits in 57 games and drawing 30 walks.
His postseason performance was a memorable one as he went 12-of-14 against West End and Pinson Valley. He added three walks to reach base 15-of-17 times he walked to the plate in the playoffs.
He added two stolen bases, six runs scored and six RBIs, while connecting for five doubles.
From his last at-bat in game one of the second round against Pinson until his second at-bat in game three of the second round playoff series, Wiley recorded eight consecutive playoff hits. Four of those base hits were doubles.
All-Area first team
Joining Reeves on the All-Area staff, are two senior hurlers who helped their teams reach the state playoffs. Falkville left-hander Brad Vest compiled an 8-4 record with eight complete games and led the Blue Devils to an area title for the second straight season. Vest struck out 93 batters in 71 innings and posted a 1.86 ERA, in addition to recording two saves.
Dustin Hamilton compiled an 11-1 mark with a 2.40 ERA while helping the Bulldogs reach the third round of the state playoffs for the first time. He struck out 124 batters in 81 innings and won two postseason contests.
In the infield, the Hartselle Tigers placed two underclassmen, who may be strong Player of the Year candidates in the future. Junior Jordan Parker, who broke the Hartselle High record for hits in a season by nine, made the team after batting .423 this year.
Parker's 74 hits surpassed the old Tiger mark of 65 set by Clint Chaney in 1998. Parker finished just one shy of the state record of 75 hits in a season set in 1998 by G.W. Long's Drew Miller.
Parker also led the club with 58 RBIs and scored 54 runs. He struck out only 11 times in 175 trips to the plate, while hitting nine doubles, five homers and a triple.
Hargett, just a sophomore, ended the year hitting .377 with 54 runs scored and 48 RBIs.
He tied Wiley for the club lead with seven homers. Hargett added nine doubles and three triples, while drawing 37 walks. He stole 19 bases in 21 attempts.
Falkville senior Todd Russell powered the Blue Devils offense with a .386 average and a .515 on base percentage. He homered twice, while driving in 16 runs and scoring 25 times in 29 games.
Brewer's Jameson Pugh had a fine season for the Patriots in spite of the club suffering another long year.
Pugh hit .356 and led the club with 10 doubles, 16 runs scored and was second with 15 RBIs. The senior also drew 17 walks in 28 games.
In the outfield, Hartselle's Ja'Cote Ward made a big push at the plate after recovering from an early-season shoulder injury. Ward, who was hitting only .316 after 22 games, ended the year at .402, adding 86 points to his average in the final 35 games.
Ward stole 15-of-18 bases, drove in 39 runs and scored 36 times.
He was known for crowding the plate as a pitch hit him 15 times in 2005. He finished with three homers and 15 doubles.
Priceville junior Hunter Teague hit .364 for the Bulldogs, while stealing 11 bases and collecting 11 doubles. He drove in 27 runs and scored 38 times in 39 games.
Danville senior Craig Poole hit .421 and stole 27 bases in 31 games helping the Hawks to a second straight postseason appearance.
Poole's teammate Thomas Hopkins was chosen as the team's utility player after posting a 4-0 record on the mound and hitting .484 at the plate. Hopkins added one save in relief while throwing 45 innings.
At the plate, he smashed four homers, drew 15 walks and stole 22 bases, while compiling a .566 on base percentage.
The designated hitter spot went to Hartselle junior Joe McClanahan.
McClanahan caught the a few games as Wiley's backup behind the plate, but he batted at DH for most of the second half of the year.
He finished with s .447 batting average and drove in 25 runs, while scoring 28 times in only 34 games.
He launched three homers and collected a dozen doubles. He finished the year with a .574 on base average.