Hughes Springs headlines area's elite honorees
Class 3A state semifinalist Hughes Springs landed three players on the first team to go along with one second-team pick and three honorable-mention selections with the release of the Texas Sports Writers Association's 2017 All-State Softball Teams.
East Texas was well-represented on the elite list, with a total of five first team, five second team, five third team and 34 honorable mention selections.
Voting was conducted by TSWA members based on nominations from coaches and media from around the state.
Heading up the list for area players were Hughes Springs first baseman Shelbie Fickling (.418, 5 home runs, 10 doubles, one triple, 41 RBI, 38 runs), second baseman Haylee Wilson (.397, 9 home runs, 12 doubles, one triple, 62 RBI, 44 runs) and outfielder Peyton Blythe (.487, 8 home runs, 7 doubles, 6 triples, 37 RBI, 69 runs, 45 stolen bases).
They were joined on the first team in Class 3A by White Oak pitcher Jessica Patak (23-6, 0.57 ERA, 313 strikeouts, 22 walks in 181 innings; .429 average, 3 home runs, 16 doubles, 38 RBI) and West Rusk utility player Makana Morton (.663, 12 home runs, 24 doubles, 67 RBI, 55 stolen bases, 52 runs; 11-3, 1.35 ERA, 101 strikeouts).
Second team selections from the area included Pine Tree outfielder Na'keyia Fisher in Class 5A, Carthage second baseman Chelcie Pierce in 4A, Hughes Springs pitcher Marisol Kennedy and West Rusk second baseman Maeghan Davis in 3A and Carlisle first baseman Allison Gray in Class 2A.
Earning third team honors from the area were Pine Tree pitcher Madalyn Alexander and Mount Pleasant outfielder Ashleigh Cheek in 5A, Carthage pitcher Taylor Wills, Henderson pitcher Brianna Robinson and Spring Hill third baseman Sydney Johnson in 4A and Harleton pitcher Randi Carol Phillips in Class 3A.
Player of the year honors went to Keller's Kasey Simpson (.463, 10 home runs, 16 doubles, 6 triples, 48 RBI, 11 stolen bases) in 6A, Willis' Casey Dixon (35-8, 1.13 ERA, 440 strikeouts; .372, 7 home runs, 37 RBI) in 5A, Krum's Tristan Bridges (35-4, 0.46 ERA, 305 strikeouts, 225 IP; .460, 8 home runs, 13 doubles, 3 triples, 24 RBI) in 4A, Little River Academy's Gaby Hay (34-7 pitching record; .439 average) in 3A and D'Hanis' Shelby Gayre (.714, 19 home runs, 16 doubles, 61 RBI, 62 runs, 27 walks, 25 intentional walks) in Class 2A.
State champion coaches Bryan Poehler of Keller in 6A, Deana Coleman of The Colony in 5A, Bryan Chaney of Krum in 4A, Gus Beurshausen of Little River Academy in 3A and Kristina Stephens of Bells in 2A earned Coach of the Year honors.
(Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports)