Meet the All-Concho Valley Softball Team
SAN ANGELO, TX-- The 2018 softball season has concluded for all Concho Valley teams. At San Angelo LIVE! we have assembled the All-Concho Valley Team based upon our experience reporting this season.
This season was a great one for area teams because nine of them made it to the playoffs. Five of those nine advanced to the Area Round of playoffs, and the Wall Lady Hawks made the deepest run out of all teams by advancing to the Regional Quarterfinals.
The Lady Hawks fell in that round to Alpine, but it was a historic series because it featured 91 combined runs, the most ever in a Class 3A playoff series. The old record was 89 set by Littlefield and Sanford-Fritch in their 2016 Bi-District playoff series.
With the season over, our staff of sportswriters want to recognize the area's best softball players, so here is the first-ever San Angelo LIVE! All-Concho Valley softball team:
Newcomers of the Year:
Baylee Fulps, P, Fr., Central High SchoolAbove: Central freshman Baylee Fulps throws a pitch in the first game of Central's Bi-District matchup with South Grand Prairie. April 27, 2018. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Fulps was a star in the circle during her freshman campaign for the Lady Cats. The freshman hurler posted a 3.31 ERA with a 6-4 record and 96 strikeouts. Those numbers were good enough for Fulps to earn co-Pitcher of the Year honors in District 8-6A. Fulps also posted a .328 batting average with 16 RBIs in her first year on varsity for the Lady Cats.
Ashton McMillan, P, Fr., Central High School
Above: Central freshman Ashton McMillan swings through a pitch against South Grand Prairie. April 28, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
McMillan, much like her teammate Fulps, had a stellar freshman campaign. McMillan alternated with Fulps in the circle during 2018, but most of the freshman's success came at the plate where she posted a .464 batting average in 69 at-bats. McMillan also posted a 7.89 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched.
Izzy Vera, So., Wall High SchoolAbove: Wall's Izzy Vera hurls a pitch in the first inning against Idalou. May 3, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
The sophomore finished with a 9-1 record for the Lady Hawks in 2018. While pitching more for contact rather than strikeouts, Vera posted an area-lowest 1.72 ERA with just 25 strikeouts in 56 and two-thirds innings pitched. Vera's pitching was good enough to earn District 4-3A Pitcher of the Year honors. Vera was also a big help in the field for the Lady Hawks during her time at second base when she wasn't in the circle by committing just four errors all season.
Tycie Lange, Jr., Miles High School
Lange posted a 6.95 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 73-and-two-third innings. The junior posted a 7-2 record in the circle for the Lady Bulldogs to help them to a 14-8 record and an Area Round berth this season. Lange also held an .844 fielding percentage. To help matters even more for the Lady Bulldogs, Lange also posted a .455 batting average with 14 RBIs and 31 runs scored.
Jackilyn Sykes, Jr., Sonora High School
Above: Sonora's Jackilyn Sykes gets ready to swing at a pitch against Grape Creek. March 27, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
The Lady Bronco's junior battery was stellar behind the dish in 2018. Sykes held a .967 fielding percentage with just four errors in 120 attempts on the season. She also gunned down 16 would-be base stealers this season. At the plate, Sykes was just as good with a .420 batting average, 20 RBIs, 24 runs scored and two home runs.
Lexi Valles, 1B, Sr., Wall High School
Above: Wall’s Lexi Valles drills a homerun against Alpine. May 12, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Valles was always commended by her coaches for her play at first base, whether it was going into a full split or jumping high off the bag to snag a throw before tagging a runner in the same motion. Valles was as sure as you could get at the position, committing just three errors in 164 attempts for a .981 fielding percentage and First Team All-District 4-3A honors. The Lady Hawk senior also hit .380 with 29 RBIs and four home runs.
Ashley Dusek, 2B/SS, Sr., Wall High School
Above: Wall's Ashley Dusek hits the second home run for the Lady Hawks against Reagan County. March 28, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Dusek hit the cover off the ball in 2018 with a .485 average. The Lady Hawk slugger crushed eight home runs in 2018 and drove in 40 RBIs to earn Offensive MVP honors in District 4-3A. In 110 attempts, Dusek only committed 10 errors for a .909 fielding percentage.
Morgan Fowler, P/SS, Jr., Grape Creek High School
Above: Grape Creek's Morgan Fowler throws a pitch in the sixth inning against Sonora. March 27, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
While also a staple in the circle for the Lady Eagles, Fowler was a staple at shortstop in 2018. Fowler and Rose Bannert rotated at the positions during the Lady Eagle's 2018 campaign that saw them make their fourth-straight playoff appearance. Fowler posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage for Grape Creek in 35 attempts. Those numbers, along with Fowler's .574 batting average, 23 RBIs, 38 runs scored and two home runs, were good enough to earn First Team All-District honors.
Ashlynn Box, 3B, Jr., Wall High School
Above: Wall's Ashlynn Box throws a ball to first base against Idalou in the Area Round. May 3, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
The Lady Hawk third baseman made this an easy pick thanks to her performance in the postseason for the Lady Hawks. Box posted incredible numbers in the Lady Hawk's six playoff games by batting .722 with 20 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Box did all this while only hitting one home run in the postseason. While manning the hot corner for the Lady Hawks, Box posted a .905 fielding percentage in 105 attempts and turned 10 double plays. The junior is also sitting on a 13-game hit streak to close out the 2018 season as well as a 39-game on base streak that dates back to her sophomore season.
Dekota Morrow, So., Sonora High School
Morrow did a tremendous job patrolling the outfield as the Lady Bronco's center fielder. The sophomore posted an .805 fielding percentage with just eight errors in 41 attempts in 2018. Morrow also posted a .410 batting average with a team-leading 24 RBIs, which helped her earn a spot on the Honorable Mention All-District 4-3A team.
Kaleigh Ochinang, Jr., Central High School
Above: Central's Kaleigh Ochinang scores a run against South Grand Prairie in the Bi-District playoff. April 27, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Ochinang was arguably the best outfielder in the Concho Valley in 2018. The junior center fielder posted a .950 fielding percentage with just one error against her. Because of those numbers, along with a .304 batting average and 21 RBIs in district play, Ochinang earned First Team All-District honors in District 8-6A.
Josy Mata, Sr., Miles High School
Mata was an integral part in the Lady Bulldogs taking second place in District 5-2A, which secured a first round bye in the playoffs. Mata posted an .846 fielding percentage in 39 attempts this season. The senior also hit a stellar .429 on the season, which was good enough for fourth on her team. Mata also drove in a team-second best 26 RBIs and scored 23 runs. The Lady Bulldog center fielder was also tied with Cambree Schwartz for the team lead in doubles with six in 2018. Mata also spent 32 innings behind the plate for Miles.
Kenzee Smith, P/IF Sr., Wall High School
Above: Wall’s Kenzee Smith hurls a pitch against Alpine. May 12, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
You could put Smith just about anywhere on this list and it would work. Smith was an everyday feature in the Lady Hawks lineup, playing in all 32 games. Although the Sul Ross State-bound senior started 18 of her 32 games played in the circle, Smith also saw considerable action in the field at shortstop and the occasional stint at second base with 13 games started in the field. In the circle, Smith threw 91 and two-thirds innings with a 5.88 ERA, 97 strikeouts and a 11-3 record. In the field, Smith committed just eight errors. At the plate, the First Team All-District 4-3A infield selection posted a .305 batting average with 27 RBIs.
Most Valuable Player:
Skyler Brooks, SS, So., Miles High School
Above: Miles' Skyler Brooks gets ready to throw a ball to first against Ozona. April 13, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
In sports, especially at the high school level, it is never just one player's performance that defines a team's success. Miles' sophomore shortstop Skyler Brooks was a leader on and off the field in 2018 for the Lady Bulldogs, who made it to the Area Round of playoffs. Brooks, much like in her freshman campaign, was dominant at the plate. The Ole Miss commit posted a .579 batting average with five doubles, eight triples and two home runs. Brooks also drove in 28 RBIs and scored 43 runs. The sophomore phenom also posted a .662 on-base and a 1.088 slugging percentage. In the field, Brooks was not afraid to flash the leather making play after play. She also posted a .920 fielding percentage for the Lady Bulldogs with only eight errors in 100 attempts.
Coach of the Year:
Steve Bain, Wall High School
Above: Wall Lady Hawk Head Coach Steve Bain leaves the field after meeting with his players. March 15, 2018 (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Under the direction of coach Steve Bain, the Lady Hawks made up for their 2017 District 4-3A title miss by going undefeated in district. The Lady Hawks also went 25-6-1 overall in 2018 and advanced to the Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals where they lost to Alpine in a record breaking series. Bain was also voted the Coach of the Year in District 4-3A. The Lady Hawks also had nine receive All-District 4-3A honors.
With the way Concho Valley teams played in 2018, it wasn't easy to pick a Coach of the Year.
Grape Creek's first-year coach Cara Thiel was able to take her team to the postseason, a difficult task for any new coach, and a 16-7 record.
Central's David Millsap, in his first year as the head softball coach, and his team made more Central softball history by making playoffs in consecutive years for the first time. The Lady Cats were also on the brink of the program's first playoff win in the second game of their series with South Grand Prairie in the Bi-District round of playoffs. Ultimately, the Lady Cat's comeback would fall short.