CCHS sluggers will be back for moreBy Stephen Dawkins Published 6:23pm Friday, June 22, 2012
Chilton County High School’s baseball and softball teams this past season leaned on a pair of big bats.
Craig Headley and Holly Watts are The Clanton Advertiser’s baseball and softball players of the year, respectively.
Headley was a junior, and Watts was a sophomore, so imagine what the pair could do in the future considering they have already produced award-worthy seasons.
Watts produced a stellar sophomore season despite moving to a new position, shortstop.
Watts hit .542 with 10 home runs and 42 runs batted in.
She struck out only eight times all season, which coach Krisi Parrish said demonstrates her consistency at the plate.
“She did a great job, especially considering she changed positions,” Parrish said. “People probably think that’s not a big deal (moving from third base to shortstop), but they’re completely different. She stepped up to a pretty big challenge.”
Headley, meanwhile, improved in each of his three varsity seasons. Topping his marks from this past year would be an accomplishment because he batted .585 and hit six home runs. He hit better than .350 as a freshman and better than .400 as a sophomore—and did it while serving as his team’s catcher, a position that can wear on a player and affect him at the plate.
Headley said his best game came against Greenville in the first round of the state playoffs. He had four hits, including a home run and two doubles, in four at-bats. The Tigers advanced past that series and all the way to a semifinal series at two-time defending champion Spanish Fort.
“I just react to it when I see it,” Headley said of his approach, which sounds simple but is beyond the abilities of most players. “I just think of the count and know I’m probably going to see a lot of curveballs. They pitched me away most of the time—curveballs in the dirt and fastballs away—trying to get me to chase.”
CCHS coach Josey Shannon called Headley a once-in-a-lifetime player for a coach.
“There are some things I do that I think help him, but most of what he does is just a God-given ability and him working hard,” Shannon said. “People are born to do certain things; well, he was born to hit. Twenty-five years from now, I’ll still be talking about Craig Headley.”
Shannon recognized Headley’s talent early and made him an everyday starter as a freshman, a rare task. By this past season, it became obvious teams had received Headley’s scouting report, and they approached him carefully, throwing most pitches out of the strike zone in hopes Headley would chase one and ground out.
Shannon said he thinks pitchers will be even more cautious next season, after seeing how well Headley hit in this year’s playoffs.
“A lot of people found out they should’ve given him the respect he deserves,” Shannon said. “He’s going to have to be patient, and he’s going to have to be very disciplined at the plate.”