Libby Baker of G.W. Long / 2019 Softball Player of Year
>> Background: Baker was a senior pitcher and first baseman for G.W. Long and head coach Nikki Long. She has signed to play next year at Troy University. She repeated as the Dothan Eagle Player of the Year.
>> 2019 stats: Baker finished with a .559 batting average, .637 on-base percentage and a state and national record 37 homers. She drove in 101 runs, fifth most in state history, and scored 72 runs. She walked 32 times and struck out only six times in 181 at-bats. As a pitcher, she was 20-1 with 5 saves, a 0.27 ERA with 271 strikeouts in 130 innings. She threw 16 shutouts, five no-hitters and 4 perfect games in helping G.W. Long to a 53-3 record and the Class 2A state title. She finished her career with a national and state record of 87 career homers.
>> Thoughts on being Dothan Eagle Softball Player of Year: I feel blessed to win it. I feel blessed that God has given me a great ability and given me the sport that I love so much and given me the love for the game that I can play it to the best of my ability and win an award like this.
>> What were your goals for the season? Basically it was the same things as last year – being better than I was the year before and working hard. I promised myself before the season to leave everything on the field and pitch with all my heart.
>> What was it like setting the state and national records? It built me a foundation to express myself and talk to the younger girls about the game. That was an honor and it has been a blessing to give a lot to people when they ask me questions. Like I said, I am blessed. It makes me proud and it lets me know all that hard work that I put in the offseason was worth it – all those long hours were worth it.
>> Did you have a certain goal of how many homers you wanted to hit? Not really. I kind of wanted to beat last year (21), but I didn’t know I would do what I did this year. It is like I have always said, I just get into the box and try to hit it hard. Home runs just came, I guess because I got stronger (in offseason).
>> How did you feel about your pitching this year? I thought it improved tremendously. I love to pitch. Hitting comes natural. I am a big girl so I am going to hit the ball hard, but pitching has been something I have always loved.
>> On lack of strikeouts as a hitter? Staying focused and being aggressive. I usually like to hit the first or second pitch. I don’t like to get deep in the count. If I see a pitch that I like, I go for it. I despise strikeouts. I would rather pop-up than strike out.
>> Long on Baker: Libby had an incredible season this year and was a huge asset to our program which was a direct result of her hard work and determination throughout her career. She will be remembered for not only her athletic abilities both offensively and defensively, but also for her leadership and fun spirit that she brought to the team.
Nathan Rainey of Wicksburg / 2019 Softball Coach of Year
>> Background: Rainey was in his third year at Wicksburg after guiding Slocomb for 10 years. He has a career record of 398-203, including 112-54 at Wicksburg.
>> 2019 stats: The Panthers earned a school 47 wins against 16 losses and finished as the Class 3A state runner-up. They won highly competitive Class 3A, Area 4 and finished second at the South Regional Tournament before reaching the finals at state. They are believed to be the first Wicksburg team in any sport to make a state finals appearance.
>> Thoughts on being Dothan Eagle Softball Coach of Year: It is an incredible honor. I really wasn’t expecting it. It is not just me, but my other coaches, Kris (Rainey) and Jackie (Amos). It is not the Nathan Rainey show – it is a group effort with the parents, the players and coaches. The Lord blessed us with great players, great parents and for me, great assistants, that made my job easier.
>> What were preseason goals? We had everybody coming back but one and we made it far last year (South Regional second qualifier game). We thought we had an opportunity to go far, but you still have to have a lot of things go right and catch a few breaks because it doesn’t always work out like you plan it.
>> On challenges in Class 3A, Area 4: Overall, this season was probably the toughest schedule I’ve made out since I have been coaching. We did that intentionally because we knew our area was going to be tough with Slocomb, Providence Christian and Houston Academy. I said this before the area tournament that there was going to be two good teams that didn’t make it out that were probably better than some teams in the regionals. For us to make it out of area was a big relief for us. Obviously, the regional wasn’t any easier but the kids had been tested because of the schedule, including the area.
>> What stood out about this team? First of all, there were a lot of talented kids on the team. It was easy for me to sit back and coach when you have as much talent as we had. We asked some of the seniors toward the end of year, ‘What do you have to say about this group?’ They were like, ‘This is the closest we have ever been to a team. We are a family.’ They loved each other. They were a fun group to coach because they kept things interesting, but they also knew when it was time to work, they were going to work their butts off.
>> Where did you see as the strength of the team? When you have a couple of arms from kids (Emily Boin and Rosie Robinson) who are going to college ball pitching has to be a strength, but we had several kids that hit well throughout the season consistently for average and for power (school record 41 homers). It was also different people that stepped up too at different times. It was a good balance.
Super 12 Team Selections
Libby Baker, G.W. Long
Senior pitcher/first baseman
Player of the Year
.559 avg., .637 OBP, 37 HRs, 101 RBIs, 72 runs, 32 walks; 20-1 record, 5 saves, 0.27 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 271 strikeouts in 130 innings.
Savanna Wood, G.W. Long
Senior first baseman/pitcher
.465 avg., .525 OBP, 21 HRs, 85 RBIs, 47 runs, 20 doubles; 17-2 record, 3 saves, 1.34 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 210 strikeouts in 110 innings.
Collier Peaden, Northview
Sophomore right fielder/SS/3B
.506 avg., 91 hits (tied second most in Wiregrass), .544 OBP, 26 RBIs, 76 runs (second most in Wiregrass), 5 triples, 45-of-46 steals.
KJ Braswell, Northview
.467 avg., .510 OBP, 13 HRs, 94 RBIs (second most in Wiregrass); Wiregrass-best 22 doubles, 11-of-13 on stolen bases, 21 walks.
Jaala Torrence, Northview
29-6-1 record, 1.29 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, Wiregrass-best 332 strikeouts in 189 2/3 innings; 2 no-hitters; .333 avg., .412 OBP, 5 HRs, 43 RBIs.
Stephanie Schoonover, Rehobeth
22-6 record, 1 save, 1.34 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 296 strikeouts; 3 no-hitters; .370 avg., .436 OBP; 15 HRs, 56 RBIs, 50 runs, 17-of-18 steals.
Madison Brown, Ashford
.586 avg., .629 OBP, 58 runs, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 23-of-24 steals, struck out only 6 times in 151 at-bats.
Joanna Marshall, Dale County
Freshman center fielder/second baseman
.508 avg., .544 OBP, 91 hits (tied second most in area); Wiregrass-high 78 runs scored, 33 RBIs, Wiregrass-best 54 steals, Wiregrass-best 9 triples.
Emily Boin, Wicksburg
Senior pitcher/first baseman
27-13 record, 1 save, 1.85 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 318 strikeouts (second most in Wiregrass), 10 shutouts; .364 avg., 4 HRs, 48 RBIs, 12 doubles.
Rosie Robinson, Wicksburg
Senior second baseman/pitcher
.503 avg., .522 OBP; Wiregrass-best 94 hits, 42 RBIs, 38 runs, 20 doubles; 17-3 record, 1.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 143 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings.
Emma Houston, Providence Christian
Junior second baseman/pitcher
.543 avg., .653 OBP, 13 HRs, 44 RBIs, 43 runs; 11 doubles, 22 walks, 8 hit by pitches; 10-5 pitching record.
Courtney Lunsford, Kinston
.560 avg., .651 OBP, 4 HRs, 40 RBIs, 36 runs, 13 doubles, 9-of-10 steals, 15 walks, 11 hit by pitches.
Honorable Mention Super 12: Carley Cook, Eufaula; Jabby Terrell, Northview; Rayleigh Thagard, Northview; Blake Gibson, Rehobeth; Sydney Pybus, Rehobeth; Chasilyn Sawyers, Rehobeth; Sydni Garrett, Charles Henderson; Emma Kirkpatrick, Charles Henderson; Darian Bell, Ashford; Barrett Lawrence, Ashford; Liz Rodebaugh, Dale County; Ainslie Condrey, Headland; Anslee Finch, Geneva; Ashton White, Wicksburg; Jaysoni Fowler, Houston Academy; Mattie Havas, Houston Academy; Alexis Milanowski, Houston Academy, Braya Hodges, Opp; Graceanne Spears, Opp; Carlee Colbert, Providence Christian; Camille Palmer, Providence Christian; Amara Myles, Slocomb; ; Emmaline Hughes, G.W. Long; Makenna Long, G.W. Long; Dallas Potter, G.W. Long; Hanna Segars, G.W. Long; Kate Warrick, Goshen; Allee Alexander, Northside Methodist; Grace Rushing, Pike Liberal Arts