Haskins, Widra repeat as Shelby County Players of the Year
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
Some of the best athletes in the state always seem to reside in Shelby County, but the 2019 season brought one of the strongest crops of high school athletes the county has ever seen.
With three state tournament teams, 25-plus players holding a batting average of .400 or greater this season, five players with double-digit home runs, nine players with 40-plus RBIs, four pitchers with a combined record of 70-22, three pitchers with an ERA less than 1.80, three pitchers with more than 190 strikeouts and two pitchers with more than 230 strikeouts, the county saw some incredibly gifted athletes grace the field this season.
All of those remarkable numbers led to 22 athletes from Shelby County earning a spot on the All-State team, including seven on their respective first team.
To stick out in a pack of players that talented makes you an extraordinary athlete, and that’s exactly what Spain Park’s Annabelle Widra and Thompson’s Lauren Haskins were.
Widra, who was also dominant at the plate, has been named the 2019 Pitcher of the Year in Shelby County for the second consecutive season, while Haskins has been named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
One of the best overall players in the country, Widra didn’t just dominate in the circle this season, but put up some of the state’s best numbers in the batter’s box too.
Pitching wise, Widra posted an ERA of 1.33 with a county-high 237 strikeouts. In 137 innings, she allowed just 26 earned runs to finish the season 22-2 overall.
While Pelham’s Briana Copeland went 18-9 overall with 193 strikeouts, Vincent’s Maddy Walker went 20-9 with 236 strikeouts and Thompson’s Eleanor DeBlock went 10-2 with 90 strikeouts, Widra’s continued improvement as just a sophomore has been incredible.
She has now been the county’s player of the year for three consecutive seasons dating back to her eighth grade year.
After bettering her ERA this season, and picking up just one less victory and 27 less strikeouts in 29 less innings pitched this season, Widra brought her career strikeout total to 772 with two more years of pitching left. She has thrown for at least 237 strikeouts in all three years, throwing 272 in eighth grade and 264 last season.
At the plate, Widra batted .490 and finished second in the county with 72 hits and led the county with 70 RBIs. She had 18 doubles, four triples and six home runs. Widra also added 32 stolen bases and 27 walks this season.
To show how good of a career Haskins has had with Thompson, the senior had her worst season in the last three years yet still batted .485 with an OPS of 1.443. She not only finished third in the county in hits with 65 and fourth in the county in RBIs with 54, but finished third in the county with 63 runs scored and second in the county with 14 home runs. She also stole 23 of 24 bases safely, which ranked third in the county.
While players like Shelby County’s Peri Clark, Maggie West and Nataley Whitner, as well as Maddie Majors of Spain Park, Yoly Paredes of Pelham and Kindall DeRamus, a teammate of Haskins, all had incredible seasons as well, Haskins’ bulk of work and her ability to do it against the state’s best pitchers made her impossible to ignore for the award.
It marks the end of an incredible career for Haskins, who has left a historic mark on the county, while Widra will be back looking to lead the Jags to another state tournament berth for her fourth year as a starter in 2020.