Field of stars: All-County baseball team named for 2023 season

Published 5:48 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Following a historic baseball season across Shelby County that featured two teams make their respective semifinals, one make a state championship and seven total make the playoffs, it’s time to celebrate the players that made it all possible.

One of the most balanced years we have seen in the sport across Shelby County, several of the state’s best players took the field and made a difference for their program, earning them a spot on the 2023 All-County baseball team.

The team features a first team, second team and honorable mention list to celebrate those who made impacts on their teams both as players and leaders.

First Team

Pitcher: CJ Gross, junior, Spain Park. As a junior, Gross set a new school record for wins, going 10-1 this season. He posted an impressive 1.68 ERA for the Jags and struck out 53 batters, while he posted two shutouts on the season in 58 1/3 innings pitched on the mound. He only gave up 14 earned runs and 13 walks, while he allowed 50 total hits.

Pitcher: Landon Alton, senior, Thompson. A big reason Thompson made it to the semifinals of the Class 7A playoffs, Alton took down some of the best bats and teams in the state. He finished the year 9-1 with a 1.36 ERA and struck out 76 batters, which finished third in the county. With the second most innings pitched in the county at 72, he allowed just 14 earned runs 47 hits with one shutout. 

Pitcher: Aiden Poe, sophomore, Vincent. An ace on the mound, the sophomore pitcher helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the Class 2A State Championship series. His only loss of the postseason came in game one of the finals in another stellar outing the Jackets eventually lost 2-1. He finished the season 11-2 and led the county in wins at the 11 number, while he also led the county with 123 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.87. In 89 innings pitched, he gave up 11 earned runs and 55 total hits, while he had a strikeouts per nine innings average of 9.7. He also finished with a .400 batting average, totaling 36 hits, including eight doubles, a triple and a home run with 23 RBIs.

Pitcher: Matthew Heiberger, senior, Oak Mountain. Facing some of the toughest bats in the state, Heiberger was one of the toughest pitchers to hit this season. He finished with a 1.63 ERA for the Eagles and struck out 68 batters, which finished fourth in the county. He gave up the lowest number of earned runs among starters at nine, while he only gave up 13 total runs and 16 total hits. At the plate, he was also one of the team’s best bats, finishing with a .347 average with 25 hits, including four doubles, two triples and two home runs with 17 RBIs. 

Catcher: Clay Spencer, senior, Spain Park. The top catcher in Shelby County this season, Spencer took on some of the best teams and finished with a batting average of .336, totaling 40 hits and 33 RBIs. He finished with 16 doubles and three home runs for the Jags.

First base: Cole Edwards, senior, Spain Park. The county’s Hitter of the Year for the second year in a row, Edwards finished inside the top six of every major hitting category this season. Taking on some of the best teams in the state in the highest classification, he finished first in the county with 17 doubles, second in RBIs with 43, third in hits with 48, a tie for fourth in home runs with six and in sixth with a batting average of .407. He also finished third in the county with 21 stolen bases in 22 attempts and finished with 25 walks. 

Second base: Peryn Bland, junior, Thompson. The county’s leader in hits this season, Bland finished with a total of 58 hits for the Warriors, including 13 doubles, four triples and three home runs. He put together a .374 batting average at the plate and stole 20 of 21 bases safely, finishing with the fourth most stolen bases in the county. His solid base running led to him finishing second in the county with 52 runs scored.

Shortstop: Nick McCord, junior, Oak Mountain. A highlight player at shortstop this season, McCord finished the season with a .340 batting average that included 32 hits, 10 RBIs, nine doubles, four triples and 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He also posted a 2,80 ERA on the mound with a total of 56 strikeouts.

Third base: Braydon Kendrick, sophomore, Helena. Just a sophomore, Kendrick was the leader at the plate for Helena this season. He put together a .358 batting average for the area champs, while totaling 16 RBIs on 34 hits. He finished the season with nine doubles and two triples.

Outfield: Matthew Widra, junior, Spain Park. Easily one of the top hitters in the state this season, Widra led Spain Park with an average of .414, finishing just ahead of Edwards. He totaled 41 hits and 23 RBIs with five doubles and four home runs.

Outfield: Jacob Tobias, senior, Spain Park. Another strong presence at the plate for the Jaguars, Tobias finished the season with a .315 batting average thanks to 35 hits and 27 RBIs. He totaled 10 doubles and three triples with 21 walks.

Outfield: Drake McBride, junior, Thompson. One of the biggest power hitters in the county this season, McBride finished in a tie for second with seven home runs, while he also added 11 doubles and two triples for the Warriors. He held a batting average of .298 and finished with 36 hits and 36 RBIs.

Designated hitter: Easton Fields, senior, Vincent. Fields led the county in two big categories at the plate this season, leading the way with nine home runs and 48 RBIs for the Class 2A runner-up Vincent Yellow Jackets. He put together a .422 batting average at the plate, which was fourth in the county, while he totaled 38 hits, including six doubles and a triple.

Designated hitter: Brady Waugh, senior, Briarwood. With a powerful pop to his bat, Waugh finished third in the county with a .423 batting average this season. He totaled 38 RBIs for the Lions and finished with seven doubles and five home runs to help his team win an area championship.

Designated hitter: Tucker Arrington, junior, Thompson. The top hitter for Thompson this season, Arrington finished with a .380 batting average. He led the team with 31 RBIs on 38 hits, while he finished with eight doubles, one triple and a home run. He also drew 25 walks.

Utility: Zac Carlisle, senior, Vincent. One of the county’s top overall players this year, Carlisle finished the season with a 7-2 record on the mound and a 1.54 ERA, while he totaled 55 strikeouts and gave up 11 earned runs and 32 hits. He also shined at the plate as one of the county’s best hitters this season, finishing with a .480 average and totaling 47 hits, which was third most in the county. He finished with 10 doubles, four triples and six home runs, which tied for fourth, while he led the county with 34 stolen bases and finished with 28 RBIs.

Second Team

Pitcher: Lucas Thornton, senior, Spain Park. Thornton gave the Jaguars a strong 1-2 punch this season, finishing 6-1 with a 1.51 ERA. Like Gross, he struck out 53 batters, while he gave up 11 earned runs, 18 total runs and 38 total hits. The senior finished with one shutout.

Pitcher: Zach Wyatt, sophomore, Thompson. With a 6-2 record for the Warriors this season, Wyatt had a successful run and held an ERA of 1.80. He put together an impressive 80 strikeouts, which finished second only to Poe in the county. He gave up one of the lowest walk totals in the county at 10, while he allowed 15 total earned runs and 53 total hits.

Pitcher: Drake Meeks, senior, Briarwood. The ace for Briarwood this season, Meeks finished the year with a 6-1 record to lead the Lions, who spent much of the season inside the top five. He held a 2.12 ERA, while he struck out 69 and gave up 14 earned runs and 34 total hits.

Pitcher: Colton Willmon, senior, Helena. The top starter on the mound for the Huskies, Willmon put together an impressive 1.94 ERA this season, giving up 15 earned runs in 54 innings pitched. He finished the season with an impressive 54 strikeouts, while he gave up 48 hits.

Catcher: Ethan Crook, junior, Thompson. His 49 hits this season were second only to Bland in the county this season. Crook finished the season with a .331 batting average, while his 49 hits included eight doubles and a home run.

First base: Jake Souders, junior, Briarwood. With the second-highest batting average in the county this season at .437, Souders was one of the top offensive producers this season. He totaled 37 RBIs with 11 doubles, four home runs and two triples at the plate.

Second base: Jackson Morgan, senior, Chelsea. Morgan was a talented power hitter for Chelsea this season. He finished the year with seven home runs to finish in a tie for second in the county, while he also put together nine doubles and one triple. His bat led to a total of 33 hits with 24 RBIs.

Shortstop: Kemp Swords, sophomore, Montevallo. The leader for the Montevallo Bulldogs as a sophomore, Swords finished the year with a .403 batting average thanks to 25 hits. He finished with 13 RBIs and totaled nine doubles and two triples.

Third base: Casen Fields, sophomore, Vincent. Another strong bat for the Yellow Jackets, Fields finished his sophomore season with a .384 batting average behind 38 total hits. He finished with nine doubles, two triples and 26 RBIs, while he finished second in the county with 26 stolen bases in 27 attempts.

Outfield: Chris McNeill, senior, Chelsea. The top bat for the Hornets this season, McNeill was important in helping Chelsea make the postseason in the team’s first year in Class 7A. He finished with a .294 average at the plate thanks to 30 hits, including seven doubles, two triples and a home run. He also finished fourth in the county with 20 stolen bases.

Outfield: Jarret Scott, sophomore, Helena. A young playmaker for the Huskies, Scott finished this season with a .309 average thanks to 34 hits, including six doubles and three triples, leading to 21 RBIs.

Outfield: Noah Reed, senior, Shelby County. Reed finished the season with a .345 batting average to lead the Wildcats at the plate. He put together 29 hits and 18 RBIs on the season, while he added eight stolen bases in eight attempts. He also drew 26 walks, which gave him the fifth most walks in the county.

Designated hitter: Carter Sheehan, senior, Shelby County. One of several leaders for the Wildcats this season, Sheehan finished the season with a .337 batting average thanks to 35 hits, including six doubles, three triples and two home runs. He also stole 10 bases in 11 attempts and finished with 12 RBIs and an impressive 43 runs scored, which was third in the county.

Designated hitter: Camden Cobb, junior, Vincent. With a .415 batting average this season, Cobb totaled 39 hits, including nine doubles, a triple and a home run with 30 total RBIs.

Designated hitter: Dalton Ash, sophomore, Calera. He only got 57 at bats this season, but Ash became one of Calera’s to producers with 21 hits in those at bats for an average of .368. He finished with 13 RBIs and two doubles as well.

Designated hitter: Austin Wilson, senior, Shelby County. Like Sheehan, Wilson matched his teammate with a .337 batting average this season thanks to 35 hits. He led the team with eight doubles and finished with one home run, while he led the team with 36 RBIs, which was fifth in the county.

Utility: Ben Pearman, senior, Thompson. An all-around player, Pearman put together some clutch pitching this season for the Warriors, finishing with a 4-1 record and a 2.22 ERA. He totaled 45 strikeouts on the mound and gave up 38 hits in 41 innings pitched. In addition to that, he put together a .261 batting average at the plate with 24 hits and 29 RBIs.

Honorable Mention: Will Clark, Briarwood. Bentley Berry, Calera. Mac Graham, Calera. Will Harrison, Calera. Preston Stokes, Calera. Logan Moller, Chelsea. Mason Johnson, Helena. John Martin Williamson, Helena. Grayson Duckworth, Montevallo. Brooks Braswell, Oak Mountain. Peyton Parkinson, Oak Mountain. Josh Hart, Oak Mountain. Kevin Jasinski, Oak Mountain. Andrew Petrock, Pelham. Blake Woodall, Pelham. Micah Morris, Shelby County. Evan Smallwood, Spain Park. John Robert Thompson, Spain Park. Miles Mitchell, Thompson. Ashton Blair, Thompson. Ben Ferrell, Thompson. Ray Albright, Vincent. Grayson Gulde, Vincent.