All-Area baseball team
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Now that the bats and mitts have been stored away for another off-season, it is time to look back at the 2006 season and honor the best of the best of this year's high school baseball teams.
It was a year in which three teams made the playoffs, with one of those teams advancing to the state semifinals. It was a season where freshmen and sophomores played key roles on teams that advanced to the postseason.
And it was a season where a coach made history.
Here is the 2006 Hartselle Enquirer All-Area baseball team.
Coach of the Year – William Booth, Hartselle
Jay Stanley, Danville
Despite losing senior pitchers Jacob Wray and Cody Stisher to injury and despite facing the daunting task of having to replace seven seniors from his 2005 team, Hartselle coach William Booth again helped lead the Tigers to a year they can be proud of.
Hartselle finished the 2006 season with a record of 38-18 and advanced to the state semifinal level for the third time in the last four years. Along the way, Booth reached a personal milestone of his own, passing former Vestavia Hills coach Sammy Dunn to become the winningest high school baseball coach in Alabama history.
Although Booth was an easy choice for coach of the year, credit has to go to runner-up Jay Stanley of Danville. Danville lost seven seniors from 2005's playoff team, but Stanley was able to work younger players effectively into the line-up as the Hawks finished 2006 with a 17-15 record and another trip to the playoffs.
Player of the Year –
Justin Hargett, Hartselle
Jordan Parker, Hartselle
The left side of the infield was the foundation of Hartselle's team this season, so it should come as no surprise that the Tigers' shortstop Hargett and third baseman Parker would finish neck-and-neck in the running for player of the year.
The nod goes to the junior Hargett. As the Tigers' leadoff hitter, Hargett started many a rally with a phenomenal .690 on-base percentage – in 174 at-bats, Hargett reached base 120 times. During the 2006 season, he set a new Alabama high school record after being hit by a pitch on 20 different occasions. The Hartselle shortstop led the team with 16 doubles and was second on the Tigers with 42 singles.
Once he got on the base paths, Hargett continued to be a thorn in the side of opposing pitchers, stealing a team-high 24 bases while only being caught three times. He also led the Tigers with 69 runs scored and was second on the team with 69 RBIs. His .362 batting average also ranked second on the team.
As the Tigers' usual No. 2 hitter, Parker provided a solid offensive punch at the top of the Hartselle lineup. The senior third baseman led the team with 13 home runs and had a team-high 54 RBIs. Parker was second on the team with 54 runs scored and had 11 stolen bases in 13 attempts. He hit .319 for the season and had a .471 on-base percentage.
Pitcher of the Year –
J.C. Bates, Hartselle
Dakota Wilson, Danville
Pitching proved to be a strength of the Tigers all season long, with all four Hartselle starters finishing the season with ERAs below 3.00. But no pitcher stood out more than the sophomore Bates.
Bates finished second on the Tigers with a 2.28 ERA and finished the season with a 9-4 record while also picking up four saves. Opposing batters hit just .236 against him and he tied with Will Rankin to lead the team with 76 strikeouts. Bates proved to be Hartselle's workhorse during the season, doing everything from starting to middle relief to closing. He led the Tigers with 98.1 innings pitched.
Another young pitcher who finished with a solid 2006 season was Danville's Dakota Wilson. Wilson led the Hawks' pitching staff with a record of 10-5 and an ERA of 3.36. He struck out 61 batters in 68.2 innings pitched. Despite being just a sophomore, his teammates named him Danville's most valuable player in 2006.
Filling out the pitching rotation are Wilson and two other Hartselle pitchers.
Hartselle's Keith McCaghren finished the season with a 2.98 ERA and a 9-6 record. The senior righthander was second on the team with 94 innings pitched. Opponents batted .240 against McCaghren.
Also joining McCaghren and Wilson is Hartselle junior Will Rankin. On a staff filled primarily with finesse pitchers, Rankin was the lone standout when it came to power pitching. His 76 strikeouts tied for the team lead and he led the Tigers with 13 wins. He had an ERA of 2.90 and opponents batted .254 against him.
This year's utility player is Priceville sophomore Matt Croft. Croft did a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs, hitting .358 and leading the team with 43 runs scored. He also led the Bulldogs in numerous other offensive categories, including home runs (five), stolen bases (28) and walks (22). His 24 RBIs was second on the team behind Aaron Sawyer.
The team's designated hitter is Danville freshman Parker Hogan, who did not take long to make his mark on the Hawks in his rookie season. Hogan led Danville with a .448 batting average and scored 41 runs. He had a .556 on-base percentage and finished second on the team with 27 RBIs.
The catcher for this year's All-Area team is Hartselle senior Joe McClanahan. McClanahan was solid at the plate all season for the Tigers, leading the team with a .378 batting average and a team-high 45 singles. His 41 RBIs were third on the team and he finished the season with a .672 on-base percentage.
Joining Hargett in the infield are Hartselle's Parker, Danville's Joey Miller and Brewer's Chris Holeman.
The senior Miller led Danville with 35 RBIs and had an on-base percentage of .487 during the season. Holeman had a solid senior season for a Brewer team that had another tough year on the diamond.
The outfield on this year's team is Falkville's Cody Simpson, Danville's Roger Smith, Priceville's Hunter Teague and Hartselle's Quinn Dunlap.
Simpson provided solid outfield play for the Blue Devils during the season, helping Falkville finish the year as runner-up in Area 12. The sophomore Smith was another of a long list of solid young players on this year's Danville team. He finished the year with 24 runs scored, 21 RBIs, two home runs and hit for a .369 batting average.
Teague was Priceville's senior leader in 2006 and led the Bulldogs with a .394 batting average. He was second on the team with 39 runs scored and led Priceville with 41 hits. He had 19 RBIs during the season and hit two home runs.
Completing the outfield is Dunlap, who provided solid defense at center field.