Helena’s Presley Lively repeats as Hitter of the Year

Published 5:02 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The bar for Hitter of the Year this season was impossibly high as the top bats from around the county continue to post video game numbers on a regular basis.

Part of the reason for that high bar was last year’s winner, Presley Lively, after she erupted for a .535 average for the Helena Huskies in 2023.

So what did she do in 2024? She got even better.

Lively one-upped her junior campaign with a phenomenal season to beat out a crowded field for her second-straight Shelby County Hitter of the Year title.

She improved her average by 15 points in 2024 to take her rate to .550 and repeat as the county batting champ, beating out Calera’s Whitney Holtzapfel by 47 points.

Getting hits in over half of her plate appearances also did wonders for her on-base percentage. She ended the season with a .620 clip, a figure that also topped the county.

She was a spark plug for the Huskies offense when she stepped to the plate, providing 47 RBI and a county-high 82 hits from the lead-off spot to set up her team for success.

Lively was also disciplined at the plate, striking out just 10 times while drawing 27 walks.

Her skill didn’t stop with her swing as she used her athleticism to extend singles into extra-base hits, including 13 doubles and 12 triples, the latter of which more than doubled the second-place triple total in the county.

That speed also made her a dangerous stolen base threat as she oftentimes stole second or even third before the opposing defense had time to catch their breath.

She ended the year with a mind-boggling 56 stolen bases in 61 attempts, once again a county high and 21 more than Kelsey Burden’s second-place total for Thompson.

All of that helped her score a county-best 75 runs in 149 at-bats as she crossed home plate in just over half of her at-bats. Lively also finished the year with a .879 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.499.

Lively was far from the only big-time bat in the county this season. After she was the only hitter to average over .500 last year, she had company this year from Holtzapfel’s .503 mark in the Calera star’s freshman season.

Two of the perennial power hitters were at it again in 2024 as Thompson’s Dailynn Motes and Spain Park’s Maggie Daniel had double-digit home run campaigns highlighting their efficient performances at the plate.

In addition, Shelby County’s Caitlan Bland and Briarwood’s Meredith Kellum shined in their limited plate appearances as Bland finished with a 1.068 slugging percentage and 1.636 OPS and Kellum had a 1.106 slugging percentage and 1.600 OPS.

But in the end, Lively’s consistently excellent performance against some of the best talent that Class 6A had to offer along the way to another state tournament appearance made her undeniable once again as the county’s hitting queen.