The competition was fierce on the local softball diamonds this fall.
Three teams - Eastside, Rockdale and Newton - all qualified for the state playoffs.
So it should come as no surprise that all three squads are well represented on the Citizen's 2007 All-Area Softball Team.
In fact, those three teams have a combined 12 players on the first-team unit. They also swept all the major honors.
The Hitters of the Year are Rockdale's Ashleigh George, Eastside's Sierra Petree and Newton's Morgan Smith. In their own way, each player was an offensive catalyst for the respective squads.
Rockdale's Jessie Holmes is the Pitcher of the Year after her strong pitching propelled the Lady Bulldogs to a postseason berth.
The Coach of the Year is Rockdale's Holly Hamilton, who guided the Lady Bulldogs on a magical run this fall in just her first season as coach. Hamilton helped the Lady Bulldogs end an 11-year postseason drought as they advanced to the Class AAAA sectional, finishing with a 19-9 record.
The senior right-hander produced a dominant season on the mound for the Lady Bulldogs. She finished with a 17-7 record and tallied 228 strikeouts while allowing only 32 walks in 154 innings.
Powers posted a 7-2 record for the Lady Eagles with four shutouts and a 1.39 ERA. The senior registered 95 strikeouts and allowed only 19 walks. She also recorded seven complete games.
Melson's strong pitching helped the Lady Patriots reached the Region 8-AAAA Tournament. The junior finished with a 14-12 record and a 1.61 ERA. In 178 innings, she chalked up 120 strikeouts and issued only 19 walks.
The senior catcher was the offensive catalyst for the Lady Bulldogs, batting a team-high .541. She tallied 40 hits with 14 going for extra bases, including five triples and three home runs. George also scored 27 runs. Her on-base percentage was a sparkling .653, and her slugging percentage was an amazing .838.
Smith, a senior catcher, produced the power in the Lady Rams' lineup, smashing a school record 11 home runs while hitting a team-high .498.
Overstreet combined with George to give the Lady Bulldogs a strong one-two punch in the middle of their lineup. The junior first baseman hit .401 with 36 hits. She tallied a team-high 20 extra-base hits with 13 doubles, three triples and four homers. Overstreet also led Rockdale with 16 RBIs.
The senior first baseman hit .433 as the Lady Rams advanced to the Class AAAAA sectional.
Campbell, a junior first baseman, was the Lady Seminoles' top-hitter with a .358 batting average, including a team-high seven doubles.
The junior second baseman was an offensive catalyst for the Lady Eagles, batting .398 with 35 hits, eight doubles and a team-high 26 RBIs. She also walked 16 times, had an on-base percentage of .486 and scored 26 runs.
The junior shortstop continued her strong play this fall for Heritage, batting a team-high .323. Phillips was also a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen bases.
Moon, a second baseman, was second on the Lady Rams in batting behind Smith with a .491 average.
The sophomore third baseman hit a team-high .318 with two home runs for the Lady Tigers. She made only six errors all season.
Kelly, a senior, provided the Lady Bulldogs with steady play at third base this fall. She hit .308 with 24 hits and struck out only six times in 78 at-bats.
Chambers, a junior center fielder, scored a team-high 26 runs and stole a team-high 16 bases for the Lady Eagles. She hit .371 with 32 hits and an on-base percentage of .450. She made only one error all season for Eastside.
The center fielder provided the speed for the Lady Rams, batting .418 in her senior year.
Chandler, a senior, did not commit an error all season in left for the Lady Eagles. She hit .261 with 23 hits and 10 RBIs.
Richards took turns beating teams on the mound and at the plate for the Lady Eagles. On the mound, the senior posted a record of 12-2 with a 1.46 ERA. She record three shutouts and had eight complete games, finishing the season with 191 strikeouts and 20 walks. At the plate, she hit .363 with 33 hits, 11 doubles and 19 RBIs. In the field, she committed only one error in 90 total chances for a .989 fielding percentage.
The freshman filled two keys roles for the Lady Tigers at pitcher and leadoff hitter. On the mound, she compiled a 10-10 record and had a 1.68 ERA. At the plate, she registered a .302 batting average.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: All-Area Softball
Hitters of the Year: Ashleigh George, Rockdale; Sierra Petree, Eastside; Morgan Smith, Newton
Pitcher of the Year: Jessie Holmes, Rockdale
Coach of the Year: Holly Hamilton, Rockdale
Pitcher: Jessie Holmes (Senior, Rockdale)
Pitcher: Rikki Powers (Senior, Eastside)
Pitcher: Jamie Melson (Junior, Heritage)
Catcher: Ashleigh George (Senior, Rockdale)
Catcher: Morgan Smith (Senior, Newton)
First Base: Kaitlin Overstreet (Junior, Rockdale)
First Base: Ashley Anthony (Senior, Newton)
First Base: Meghan Campbell (Junior, Salem)
Infield: Sierra Petree (Junior, Eastside)
Infield: Whitney Phillips (Junior, Heritage)
Infield: Kierstie Moon (Senior, Newton)
Infield: Amber Melton (Sophomore, Alcovy)
Infield: Kayla Kelly (Senior, Rockdale)
Outfield: Brianna Chambers (Junior, Eastside)
Outfield: Shay Marks (Senior, Newton)
Outfield: Sabrina Chandler (Senior, Eastside)
Utility: Brandi Richards (Senior, Eastside)
Utility: Dallas Hardin (Freshman, Alcovy)
Alcovy: Johnna Bagley (Sophomore, P-SS), Calais Dilligard (Sophomore, 2B), Kelly Azar (Freshman, Utility)
Eastside: Brittany Harper (Senior, 3B), Amanda Henderson (Sophomore, P/1B), Laura Rodriguez (Senior, SS)
Heritage: Kat Baize (Junior, 1B), Katie Cuson (Junior, OF), Jaclyn Queen (Junior, 1B)
Newton: Shandria Usher (Senior, 3B), Jasmin White (Senior, SS)
Rockdale: Katelyn Baker (Freshman, RF), Whitney Dixe (Senior, 2B), Katie Ferrell (Sophomore, CF/P), McQuilla Franklin (Sophomore, SS), Kara Johnson (Junior, LF), Hope Matthews (Junior, OF)
Salem: Shelly Alliston (Senior, C), Jenna Brewer (Senior, 3B), Jessica Vason (Freshman, OF)