LUMBERTON — The following are the 2018 selections for the All-County softball team. They were selected from among the six county high school teams.
Those with a “*” were 2016 All-County selections and those with a “^” were 2017 All-County selections.
Coach of the Year
William Deese, Purnell Swett: Deese oversaw the Lady Rams as they righted the ship after finishing 7-16 in 2017, including a 1-9 mark in conference play. Purnell Swett finished 16-8 overall and 9-5 in the Sandhills Athletic Conference, winning the Robeson County Slugfest before advancing to the second round of the state playoffs.
Deese’s take: “I didn’t expect it, but it just lets me know that we had a good season and the girls played up to their potential. I can’t take credit for it because it’s all based on what the girls do. They’ve been sailing above and beyond what I thought we could do. I’m proud of them most of all.”
Player of the Year
*^Madison Canady, Lumberton, INF, Jr.: A .477 batting average, 42 RBIs, 10 home runs and 33 runs scored helped Canady take home Player of the Year honors for the third consecutive year. The 10 long balls were more than her previous two seasons combined.
Canady’s take: “I feel like what I did this year was better than all the other years besides batting average and stats. I just tried harder this year and got the results I wanted.”
Lumberton coach Mackie Register’s take: “She’s put in work. She put in a lot of hard work over the summer and in the fall. She’s out there hitting after practices all the time. Her dad works with her too. Him and LeeAnn Nobles’ dad deserve some credit. They help her out after we practice.”
Pitcher of the Year
*^JaiLeana Deese, Purnell Swett, Jr.: Deese posted a 13-5 record with a 2.68 ERA for the Lady Rams this season. She struck out 95 batters in just under 110 innings. Deese was named Robeson County Slugfest MVP after pitching the Lady Rams to a win over Lumberton in the championship game.
JaiLeana Deese’s take: “It’s exciting. I wasn’t expecting it. My team helped me. When I was on the mound struggling, they would always come help me and keep me upbeat.”
William Deese’s take: “After last year, she told me she was going to get stronger and have a better year than she did last year. Her batting production was down from last year, but her pitching was better. As a pitcher, it’s not always just you. You depend on your teammates. Looking at stats, she more than doubled, almost tripled, her winning percentage from last year. “
Most Improved Player
^Brianna Brewer, St. Pauls, P, So.: After registering 103 strikeouts in 94 innings as a sophomore, Brewer responded well to an increased workload this season. She had 174 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA for the Lady Bulldogs. She also scored five more runs (21) than last year and increased her slugging percentage from .517 to .553.
Brewer’s take: “I came into the season with a patient mindset that no matter what I wanted to improve. My teammates backed me up and I backed them up also. Whenever we worked together, we have a chance of winning. I’m thankful because I worked hard to get where I’m at. To be noticed, it’s huge.”
St. Pauls coach Phillip Tyler’s take: “She’s going to work to get better. She’s a great player and will continue to get better if she wants to pitch in college. Every time you have her on the mound, you’ve got a chance to win and that’s the big thing.”
Freshman of the Year
MariJo Wilkes, Purnell Swett, UTL, Fr.: Wilkes quickly found a role to fill in her first season with the Lady Rams. She became a routine starting outfielder, batting .271 with 13 runs scored and three doubles.
Wilkes’ take: “I’m happy that I worked this hard and made it this far. My teammates had a lot of faith in me this year. They had more faith in me than I had in myself. They helped me get through it, especially the seniors.”
Deese’s take: “I’m very pleased. She struggled toward the end of the season, but early in the season she was one of the top hitters we had. She was getting the hits that we needed, and over the course of the year she had some big hits for us. I knew she was a good ballplayer, but she exceeded my expectations.”
*Kaylee McMillan, Fairmont, Sr.: McMillan posted a 10-10 record with a 4.82 ERA this season. She notched 93 strikeouts in 122 innings.
*^Kaitlyn Hunt, Purnell Swett, INF, Sr.: The senior tied JaiLeana Deese for most doubles on the team with eight. She posted a .420 batting average with 23 RBIs while also holding down the hot corner on defense.
Madison Strickland, Purnell Swett, INF, Sr.: Strickland was the leading power hitter for the Lady Rams this season, logging four home runs to go along with a .724 slugging percentage.
*Magan Barton, Purnell Swett, INF, Sr.: The senior shortstop scored 23 runs and drove in 15 as well for the Lady Rams. She hit .371 with five doubles, a triple and a home run.
*^Morgan Britt, Lumberton, P/INF, Jr.: Britt started 17 games on the mound for the Lady Pirates before taking over as the team’s primary second baseman. As a pitcher, she went 11-5 with a 3.75 ERA, striking out 85 batters in just over 93 innings. At the plate, Britt batted .353 with 24 RBIs, six home runs and a team-high 37 runs scored.
*^LeeAnn Nobles, Lumberton, INF, Sr.: The Louisburg College signee tallied seven home runs this season, the second-highest total on the team behind Canady. She turned in average of .402 at the plate with 31 RBIs.
^Kasey West, Lumberton, C, Jr.: Baserunners were successful just 37 percent of the time on steal attempts with West behind the plate. She also hit .437, with 33 runs scored, 21 RBIs, six doubles and three triples.
Erin Maynor, Lumberton, INF, Jr.: Maynor posted Lumberton’s third-highest batting average at 27 RBIs. Maynor’s .777 slugging percentage reflected her ability to rack up extra base hits.
Mya Strickland, Fairmont, OF, Sr.: Strickland batted .387 with 22 RBIs and a team-high three home runs for Fairmont. She also had 24 stolen bases for the Lady Golden Tornadoes.
Kaitlyn Hunt, C, Fairmont, So.: Hunt posted 18 RBIs with a .373 batting average. She threw out eight runners behind the plate as well.
*^Danielle Gray, St. Pauls, UTL, Sr.: Gray was the Lady Bulldogs’ leader at the plate this season with a .375 batting average and 20 runs scored. She also swiped 14 bases.
Kiera Bryant, Red Springs, OF, Jr.: Bryant led the Three Rivers Conference with 36 stolen bases and was a key offensive weapon for the young Lady Red Devils.
Makoa Riveira, South Robeson, INF, Fr.: Riveira had an impressive start to her prep career playing alongside her sister, KK Riveira.
Individual awards and team selections were made by Brandon Tester and Jonathan Bym, with the help of Tony Chavis.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.