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Local athletes recognized on all-state teams

Brantley pitcher Jacob Free was named Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. The sophomore was also chosen for the first-team all-state.

“Jacob being named Player of the Year as a tenth-grader shows you just how special he is,” said Greg Evans, who was head coach of the Bulldogs.

Joining Free on the list was Luverne shortstop Kenterius Womack.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association recognized local talent on its annual list of all-state baseball and softball teams.

As state champions, it was no surprise that five Brantley softball players were recognized, including freshman Leanna Johnson, Pitcher of the Year.

Head Coach Cindy Hawthorne said Johnson’s recognition was well-deserved.

“Leanna stepped up for us when our pitcher, Alex Wilcox (last year’s 1A Pitcher of the Year) had an injury,” Hawthorne said. “Leanna works so hard, 12 months out of the year. So, her success this year didn’t come as a surprise to me. It was just a matter of time. Leanna is what every coach wants on their team: a winner.”

Joining Johnson on the Class 1A first team were eighth-grader Kassidy Wilcox, was MVP of the championship game. First baseman Sydney Bryan and outfielder Alex Wilcox also made the cut.

Designated hitter Jessica Hermeling was named on the second team.

“The recognition of these five players is well deserved by each of them,” Hawthorne said. “These five players have worked very hard to become the players that they are, and have been an integral part of our team’s back to back state championships.”

Three local players were named to the baseball second team: Luverne pitcher Kevontae May, Brantley designated hitter Tate Tatum and Brantley pitcher Matthew Renfroe. Tatum also received an honorable mention as catcher.

Evans said he was proud of his players.

“God really blessed this team this season…from starting with a 1-9 record to playing for the state championship,” he said. “It’s a great way to go out as a senior like Tate was. Jacob and Nathan should have some bright futures ahead of them.”

Evans said it was unusual for a ninth-grader and tenth-grader to be recognized on the state level.

Rounding out the list was honorable mention Luverne third baseman Austin Odom.

“I’m proud of those guys,” said Andre Parks, who was head coach of the Tigers. “Kevontae, Austin and Kenterius were some of the core members of the baseball team and it’s just great to see them recognized.”

Mr. Baseball and Ms. Softball will be announced at the ASWA convention in Mobile on June 14.