2019 North Jefferson News Softball Player of the Year:
Carlee McCondichie—senior shortstop, Gardendale
Gardendale head softball coach Barry Brake saw his No. 2 hitter make big plays in big games for four straight years while the Rockets stacked up back-to-back-to-back state tournament appearances.
Carlee McCondichie directly followed the leadoff throughout her four-year career in the Maroon and White. McCondichie, an Auburn signee in the Class of 2019, didn’t always pace her team on the stat line, but she was the clear-cut leader in a talented clubhouse and that’s why she’s the 2019 North Jefferson News Softball Player of the Year.
“She has a lot of intangibles. Her knowledge of the game and the understanding of what needs to take place during the game sets her apart,” said Brake of McCondichie. “She brings a whole dimension to the game that a lot of people don’t have. She makes everyone around her compete.”
She started her prep career in right field before moving into an opening at second base as a sophomore and slid over to shortstop for her senior season. McCondichie fielded each position well enough to garner Class 6A All-State recognition in each of her four years on the job. In total, she helped the Rockets post a record of 178-65-4 to go with two third-place state tournament finishes followed by a runner-up ending last season in Montgomery.
“I think one of the things about her game that is overlooked is how good she was on the bases,” said Brake. “She’s a lot faster than she gets credit for, but she’s an outstanding baserunner: could turn singles into doubles, she knew when to take a chance, she knew when to draw a throw, which goes back to those intangibles.”
Batting from the left side, McCondichie swung home 61 RBIs last season. She legged out 29 doubles, 11 triples and throttled back into a home run trot six different times—a number Brake believes would have been larger if not for several games played on college diamonds throughout the year.
She hit for an average of .494 and managed an on-base percentage of .538 in a team-high 178 at-bats.
Can the versatile freshman find her way on the field next season for the Tigers? Brake doesn’t see why not.
“The bottom line is if she swings the bat, she’s going to play,” said Brake. “Once you’re around her for an extended period of time on the field, how do you not play her? She has to play.”
Below is a rundown of the 2019 All-North Jefferson News Softball Team.
Abbie Waters—junior right fielder, Gardendale
No one in north Jefferson County, and perhaps beyond, was more efficient at the plate in 2019 than Gardendale junior Abbie Waters. Her slap approach produced 95 hits, a .543 batting average and a .585 on-base percentage for the Class 6A state runner-ups.
The right fielder swung at the top of Gardendale’s order for most of the season. Waters stole 30 bags and scored 74 runs.
Madi Maze—junior pitcher, Mortimer Jordan
Mortimer Jordan is a tough out when Maze is in the circle. The junior (17-9) tossed 129.2 innings and led the Blue Devils to their second straight Class 5A state tournament last season. Maze, a second-team all-state recipient, struck out 156 batters and allowed 50 walks to go with 38 earned runs (2.05 ERA). She also played some offense: .467 batting average, 50 hits, 22 walks and 37 runs scored.
Sarah Beth Brake—sophomore catcher, Gardendale
She’s the daughter of Gardendale head coach Barry Brake and she made dad proud in 2019. Sarah Beth led the Rockets with eight home runs and 65 RBIs. The sophomore catcher hit for an average of .452 and joined McCondichie and Waters on the ASWA Class 6A first-team All-State roster.
Maia Townsend—freshman left fielder, Mortimer Jordan
Townsend was a freshman in the Mortimer Jordan lineup in 2019, but she was no stranger to the confrontation of Class 5A softball. The left fielder also started for the Blue Devils as an eighth-grader, but elevated her game in Year 2 on the high school scene with team-high numbers in multiple categories, including hits (67), runs scored (64), singles (55), doubles (10) and sacrifice bunts (20). She finished the season with a .406 batting average.
Brantly Bonds—senior shortstop, Corner
As a senior for the Yellow Jackets this season, Bonds swung the bat at a clip of .453 and posted an on-base percentage of .527. The Wallace State Community College signee finished with 43 hits that resulted in 29 RBIs.
Savannah Pennington—senior center fielder, Gardendale
When a ball traveled back up the middle, Pennington was there to glove it. When she wasn’t tracking down contact in center field, Pennington was busy pumping out 62 hits, including 20 doubles and six triples for Gardendale. The senior Gulf Coast College signee hit for an average of .413 and drove in 61 runs in 2019.
Danilyn Moore—junior center fielder, Mortimer Jordan
She hit for power and average for the Class 5A West-Central Regional Tournament champions. Moore led Mortimer Jordan in home runs with 13 and tied Mikayla McCaian with a team-high 46 RBIs. The junior center fielder also hit 21 extra-base hits and ended the season with a .363 batting average.
Kaitlyn Clark—senior pitcher, Gardendale
The winningest pitcher in Gardendale softball history will continue her career at Snead State next season. Clark (32-4) tossed 145 innings for the Rockets last season, striking out 147 batters and walking 36 with an ERA of 2.70.
Lauren Higginbotham—junior catcher, Corner
Corner’s junior catcher, Lauren Higginbotham, joined teammate Brantly Bonds on the honorable mention list of the ASWA Class 5A All-State Team. Higginbotham led the team with six home runs and drove in 32 runs to go with a .421 average.
Jaden Goodwin—sophomore left fielder, Corner
Goodwin was the best bat in the Corner lineup last season. The sophomore posted a team-leading .454 batting average thanks to 49 hits, 40 singles, seven doubles and two triples. She reached base exactly half the time and turned it into 38 runs scored.
Jaycee Dill—senior left fielder, Gardendale
In 137 at-bats for the Rockets, Dill connected with 31 extra-base hits: 15 doubles, nine triples and seven home runs. Her final bomb in a Gardendale uniform cleared the Lagoon Park fence in center field in the fifth inning of the state championship game, locking the score at 2-2. Those were her team’s final two runs of the year.
Anna Purvis—senior third baseman, Mortimer Jordan
On a lineup full of underclassmen, Purvis was the quintessential steady senior in Kimberly. She led the Blue Devils in triples with six and finished among the team leaders in hits (51), doubles (seven), home runs (six) and RBIs (40).
Ivey Hill—senior pitcher, Corner
At the plate and in the circle, Hill went to work for her school last season. She led Corner with 36 RBIs off 32 hits and also served as the Jackets’ ace pitcher, logging 128 innings of work. Hill (10-1) struck out 84 batters and finished with a 2.406 ERA in 29 appearances.
Riley Phillips—senior second baseman, Gardendale
Phillips saw significant playing time as a senior and took advantage with 51 hits, 17 doubles and five home runs in 113 at-bats. The second baseman hit for an average of .451 for the Rockets.