Five local teams ranked in the Top 9 in their respective classes at one point or another during this past softball season, with four, at least briefly, holding a spot in the Top 3.
Some of the best talent in the state — from 1A to 7A — played in the Daily News coverage area. On Friday, 17 were named Miracle Sports all-state honorees.
Six players were named to the first team, including Niceville pitcher Katelynn Inness and first baseman Grace McIntosh, Walton pitcher Hannah Poole and shortstop Jamie Lamb, Rocky Bayou pitcher Alicyn Grete and Baker shortstop Shelby Sloan.
“I’m honored to be on a team with such great players,” McIntosh said. ”I’m so proud of my fellow Eagles for competing for the state title this year against Fort Myers. This area produces stellar athletes across all sports.”
Said Niceville head coach Danny Hensley, “It’s very rewarding. It goes right along with the season we had. When you play at a high level like we did the whole season and finished runner-up in the state, I think those kind of accolades go hand in hand.”
Inness went 25-4 with a 1.28 ERA and 263 strikeouts. McIntosh hit .361 with seven doubles, two triples and a two-run home run in the state semifinal.
“Katelynn and Grace both had great years,” Hensley said. “Katelynn got off to a good start and pitched well all year. Anytime you pitch your ball club into the state championship game, you’ve got to get that kind of recognition.
“I think Grace, she’s an outstanding athlete and she got better as the year went on. When we got down to the state tournament she hit that huge home run and a lot of peoples’ eyes opened up to what kind of elite athlete she is.”
Poole, the reigning Daily News Small Schools Pitcher of the Year, went 19-6 for the Braves with a 1.23 ERA and 231 strikeouts. Lamb finished with a .517 batting average with 18 RBI, eight doubles, one triple and three home runs.
Grete went 15-3 with a 1.06 ERA, 194 strikeouts and six shutouts.
“I knew Alicyn would definitely be a first-team selection because she’s one of the best in the state,” Rocky Bayou head coach Lynn Holcomb said. “It’s well deserved and I’m proud of her for the season she had.”
Sloan led the area with a .640 batting average (in 82 at-bats) to accent 19 RBI, seven doubles, five triples and two home runs.
Second teamers include Niceville shortstop Raiven Bryant, outfielder Sydney Byrd and second baseman Meredith Milam, Rocky Bayou third baseman Hayley Nelson, outfielder Amber Grete and catcher Kaylee Orr, Paxton pitcher Cameron Brazile and South Walton pitcher Alyssa Selvey.
Bryant hit .316 with 18 RBI and eight doubles while Byrd hit .314 with 15 RBI and Milam hit .333 with 23 RBI and seven doubles.
Nelson hit .302 with 13 RBI, five doubles and two home runs. Amber Grete hit .308 with 12 RBI while Orr hit .283 with 20 RBI, seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.
Said Holcomb, “Haley filled in at shortstop for us and did a very nice job. Amber Grete hit above .300 and played very well in centerfield. Kaylee, she’s solid behind the plate and a really good leader. All are well deserving.”
Baker’s Genesis Long (.391, 13 RBI) and Emily Stewart (.351, 19 RBI, four doubles, two triples) and Niceville catcher Hannah Gasaway (.267, six doubles, two home runs) were named honorable mentions.