It was a softball season full of highs and lows in 2011. Eastside and Newton both returned to the state playoffs and Alcovy made strides to reclaim its standing as one of their region’s elite. But the three coaches will tell you they fell short of their ultimate goals. That doesn't mean 2011 was without its share of stars.
Several players wrapped up stellar careers. Eastside said goodbye to one of the best hitters on best pitchers ever to walk its halls. In the end, the class of the field was Eastside catcher Amanda Hawkins. She headlines this year’s Covington News All-County Softball Team.
Player of the Year Amanda Hawkins (SR, Eastside)
Hawkins had a stellar career come to an end in October when the Lady Eagles were knocked out of the Class AAA playoffs in the second round. It was the culmination of one of the best careers any Eastside softball player has ever had. She leaves as the school’s all-time home run leader and a two-time Region Player of the Year. She’ll also leave as the 2011 Covington News Player of the Year.
Hawkins compiled quite the resume during her time at Eastside. She was named Region 4-AAA Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and leaves as the school’s career leader in home runs with 17.
Hawkins led the Lady Eagles in most offensive categories. She hit .406 with an .823 slugging percentage while reaching base in more than half her plate appearances (.551 on base percentage). She also hit a team-high .500 with runners in scoring position while driving in 30 runs. After tying Catherine Lee’s single-season home run record with 10 in 2010, Hawkins led the team with seven big flies this year. She also led the team in hits (39) doubles (17), runs (36) and walks (27).
A four-year starter, Hawkins really took off her junior year. She tied Lee for the most home runs hit in a season with 10 and hit over .400 while driving in 44 runs. Her power numbers slipped albeit slightly in 2011 but her two-year totals are the best by an Eastside player.
For the past seven years, Eastside enjoyed elite play from behind the plate. Hawkins becomes Eastside’s second straight catcher to sign a four-year scholarship when she inked a letter of intent to attend North Georgia University last month. Catherine Lee finished her senior year at Missouri in the spring.
Lee went on the play at Georgia State before transferring to Missouri for her junior and senior years.
Here is the rest of the 2011 All-County Softball Team.
Taylor Causey (P, Eastside): Causey was 11-4 in 17 games this year and led the team in every pitching category. Despite missing part of the season with a neck injury, she posted a 0.83 earned run average and struck out 107 batters in 93 innings. Causey is also the second Eastside pitcher the past three years to earn Region Pitcher of the Year award. She won the award in 2010. Amanda Henderson earned it in 2009.
Letice Albert (P, Newton): Albert led the Lady Rams in pitching wins and to a first place showing at the Griffin Diamond Classic to open the 2011 season. She also made her presence felt, hitting .306 for the season while belting a home run.
Chelsea Murphy (P/INF, Alcovy): Whether it was on the mound or at the plate, Murphy was Alcovy’s best player again in 2011. She led the Lady Tigers in hitting with a .397 average and had a .909 OPS. She also hit .391 with runners in scoring position. On the mound, she led the team in wins (9) and strikeouts (66) and posted a 3.12 ERA.
Kelsey Swinson (SS, Newton): Swinson did a little bit of everything in 2011 and was Newton’s spark plug throughout the year. She hit .350 and led the team in stolen bases. She was also Newton’s best defender at shortstop where she turned base hits into spectacular outs.
Marie Diaz (2B, Newton): Diaz provided a lot of the punch for a Lady Rams team that returned to the Class AAAAA playoffs again under Virginia Waters. Diaz was a vacuum at second base while hitting .325 on the year with power.
Lakeiyah Sorrells (INF, Alcovy): Sorrells led the Lady Tigers in hits with 35 and stolen bases with 19 while playing solidly at shortstop. Her 17 bunt singles were tops amongst Alcovy batters and she finished the year with a .385 batting average. In the field she turned three double plays to lead the team.
Savannah Upshaw (1B, Eastside): Upshaw helped lead the Lady Eagles into the second round of the Class AAA playoffs with her bat in 2011. She hit .337 for the year and .326 with runners in scoring position. She also drove in 14 runs and had nine doubles.
Jordan Hilty (OF, Alcovy): Hilty led the Lady Tigers in RBIs with 22, She hit .354 but upped her average when her team needed it most. She had a .375 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Keyanna Notae (OF, Newton): Notae sparkled in the outfield, leading the Lady Rams in fielding position amongst position players. She was also Newton’s offensive catalyst, finishing with a team-high 15 stolen bases while hitting over .300 for the year.
Erin Steele (OF, Eastside): Steel was Eastside’s game-changer whether at the top of the lineup or in the No. 9 hole. Her .355 batting average was good for second best and she led the Lady Eagles in stolen bases with 17. She was also solid in the field. She led all Eastside players with four outfield assists and was named All Region 4-AAA First Team.
Bianca Reed (OF, Eastside): Reed finished the season with a .290 batting average and 14 stolen bases. She was a highlight waiting to happen in center field as she used her speed to track down fly balls that most centerfielders can’t get to.
Zhandria Usher (C, Newton): Zhan as she’s known by friends and teammates capped her senior campaign with two home runs and a .403 batting average — both team highs. She had a team-best .612 slugging percentage and led Region 2-AAAAA in runners thrown out from behind the plate.
Morgan Beshears (DH, Alcovy): Beshears’ 28 hits were second to Sorrells’ 35 for the team lead. She hit .341 for the season and was just as consistent with runners in scoring position, finishing with the same batting average in the clutch. Her 14 RBIs were good for second most on the team.