The Lady Purple Devils softball team had three players to earn ASWA Class 1A All-State honors: Sommer Wright, Kailey Echols and Lauren Wright.
Ragland head coach Jonathan Nix was named Coach of the Year.
Sommer Wright earned Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year honors.
“It’s exciting,” Wright said. “Yeah, nobody thought we could do it (win a championship) again. I guess they thought since we didn’t have Emily (Church) and we didn’t have Madison (Oliver) at the beginning of the year they thought that we couldn’t go through it without them. When got Emily back we knew we could and we had a chance.”
Wright recorded a 30-8 record and struck out 288 batters from the circle this season.
Wright said she was surprised that she received Pitcher of the Year honors.
“I definitely didn’t think I would have gotten that,” Wright said.
“I couldn’t have done it without the rest of my team especially Emily. We all got back into it and thought we could do it when she came back. I guess we were down a little bit when we figured out that she was going to be out at the beginning of the year. I really don’t think anybody thought we could do it again, but I guess we proved everybody wrong.”
Nix believes Wright should have earned Pitcher of the Year the last two seasons.
“It is well deserving,” Nix said.
“There are not many girls that can come out the loser bracket (in the state tournament) and pitch like she did. Then when we got on the bus after the ball game was over she said ‘Coach, I think I think I had one more game in me if we needed it.’ She pitched 43 or 44 innings in a two-day span. She was clocked at 61 miles per hour in the last game. Hats off to her. She had a good off-season. I don’t think she missed a day all year long and she was doing her pitching without anybody there. You just can’t say enough about her character.”
Echols earned first team All-State honors as a second baseman. This season, she recorded a batting average of .505 and she hit six home runs.
“I am excited for her getting All-State,” Nix said. “She had a good season. Kailey has been one of those that we played her some at second, we have played her some at short and she has caught some games. She had been what ever you need coach and what ever is best for the team. I couldn’t ask for a girl with a better positive attitude than her. I am going to go out there and I am going to compete at whatever spot you put me and I am going to make the most of it. I am very excited for her.”
Lauren Wright earned a spot on the honorable mention team.
Nix said she played the best softball of her life in the Class 1A state tournament.
“I am happy for Lauren,” Nix said. “I’m telling you she had the best games of her life down in Montgomery. I am so happy for her to get mentioned as that. I think she is deserving of being first team All-State.
She had some key hits in those games and she made two huge plays. One of them was a diving catch for an out with two outs that would have scored runs. She also made a play on a ball that was hit to deep centerfield and she threw a girl out at third. I can tell you this. Lauren Wright will remember those games the rest of her life.”
For the second time in three years, Nix earned Coach of the Year honors. He credits his players for making this accomplishment possible.
“I am happy for it,” Nix said. “I am thankful that I am around hard working girls that make this possible. Athletes make coaches look good and we definitely have some really good athletes at our school that work hard and listen to coach Rutledge and me. The both of us are very blessed to be around girls that want to win and girls that are competitive.”