The Game Plan by Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News

To say the softball talent in the North Jefferson area is loaded would be a major understatement. Last week, when the Alabama Sports Writers Association announced their 2008 All-State softball teams, they provided proof positive that our area is full of talent on the diamond.

Three local schools had a total of 11 players named to the All-State teams in Classes 2A, 4A and 5A combined.

Only four of those 11 have graduated, so seven outstanding players will be back for more thrills and excitement in 2009.

At Mortimer Jordan, only Michelle Cheatwood and Shelbey Faucett will not return next spring, as they’ll both be playing college softball next year.

However, Morgan “Mo” Estell will return for her junior year, after hitting .542 and .490 in her first two seasons on the Lady Blue Devils varsity.

Her combined numbers over her first two years wearing the Jordan blue uniform are staggering.

She’s belted 16 home runs, 14 triples, 30 doubles, 28 stolen bases, 94 RBIs, 134 runs scored, all the while she was collecting 166 base hits.

The first baseman turned catcher, may well challenge for the 5A Player of the Year and Ms. Softball awards before her high school career ends.

Also back are two key freshman who had a big impact and helped the Lady Devils to their second state title.

Blair Johnson won 25 games and hit over .400, collecting double-digits in both doubles and triples.

Meanwhile, shortstop Danae Hays, started the season a bit under the radar, being overshadowed by the more established Jordan players, but a big second half of the season allowed her to finish above the .400 mark.

At Corner, seniors-to-be Jennifer Tolbert, who patrols center field and catcher Mandy Slatton both return in 2009. Tolbert hit .425 and Slatton was one of the best catchers in Class 4A, both behind the plate and with her bat. She’s one of the area best RBI-producers.

At Fultondale, senior-to-be catcher Haley Hill will return after hitting .545 and driving in 34 runs.

A second Lady Wildcat, who will return to the diamond next spring, is freshman-to-me Cadi “Boo” Oliver, who was selected as a All-State performer after both her seventh and eighth grade seasons.

This year was a great one for prep softball in our area and 2009 looks even better.

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