BASEBALL ALL-AREA: CCHS star’s ability all naturalBy Stephen Dawkins Published 9:41am Monday, June 17, 2013
Craig Headley credits his high school coach, Josey Shannon, for much of his success.
Headley, a career .400 hitter for Chilton County High School with seven home runs his senior season who will play next spring for Jefferson Davis Community College, is The Clanton Advertiser’s Baseball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
But Shannon said the credit Headley gives him is undeserved.
“I think he sees the ball and hits the ball,” Shannon said. “I tried to tweak with him a little bit—go the other way, look for sliders away. It doesn’t fit his make-up.
“His make-up is raw. I don’t take credit for his success. He’s the best natural, pure hitter I’ve played with or coached. I wish I could teach it, but I can’t.”
Headley was part of a group of seniors in 2013 that matured with Shannon in the dugout and took the program to historic heights.
In 2012, the Tigers advanced to the semifinal round of the state playoffs, their deepest run in 21 years.
“I’ll always remember that,” Headley said.
With Headley and fellow seniors such as Cameron Cummings perhaps feeling like they needed to carry a younger team on their shoulders, CCHS was knocked out in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, but memories were made that would last a lifetime.
Preseason practice this year describes the program under Shannon with veterans like Headley leading the way.
There was lots of hard work, of course, but the team still found time to put together a knee-slapping rendition of the “Harlem Shake” group dance video.
“If you’re not having fun in baseball, you’re not being successful,” Shannon said. “We want to win, but outside of the games, we want to have fun and enjoy each other, build memories.”
Headley batted .448 as a senior with 42 runs batted in despite an earned reputation as a feared hitter.
Headley said pitchers threw more breaking balls to him during his senior season–and fewer pitches in the strike zone.
He also excelled while playing catcher, a taxing defensive position.
Shannon said Headley’s skills behind the plate were an asset for the squad’s pitching staff.
“Our pitchers believed in him,” Shannon said. “It freed our pitchers up where they could throw a ball in the dirt, or mess up, and it wouldn’t get by him.”
Headley will be joined at Jeff Davis by teammate Tyler Crowson, but the other Tigers will be going their own way. Headley said he hopes the group stays close.
“I know all these guys will stay in touch,” he said.
That’s what Shannon would want.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to coach a kid like him,” Shannonn said of Headley. “I hate to see him go. He’s a good ballplayer, a good humble kid, down to earth. I’m going to miss him as a person more than anything.”
2013 All-Area Team
P: Justin Caudle, Jr., Jemison
P: Colby Chambers, Jr., Maplesville
P: Bo Hoffman, Sr., Thorsby
C: Craig Headley, Sr., CCHS
1B: Brett Walker, Jr., Maplesville
2B: Tyler Crowson, Sr., CCHS
3B: Denham Childress, Sr., Thorsby
SS: Parker Bryan, Sr., Thorsby
OF: Corbin Bice, Fr., Jemison
OF: Cameron Cummings, Sr., CCHS
OF: Trent Smitherman, Jr., Maplesville
Util: Blake Teel, Jr., CCHS
Coach: Jason Easterling, Jemison
P: Brantly Maddox, Sr., Thorsby
P: Matt Morgan, Jr., Thorsby
P: Thomas Nichols, So., Billingsley
C: Jared Mims, Jr., Verbena
IF: Justin Snow, Sr., Billingsley
IF: Jacob Carroll, So., Isabella
IF: Cade Hatch, Fr., Jemison
IF: J.D. Minor, Jr., CCHS
OF: Jacob Hatch, Jr., Jemison
OF: Garrett Price, Sr., Billingsley
OF: Andrew Smith, Sr., Isabella
Util: Jacob Montgomery, Sr., Verbena