Did it again

Published 9:21 pm Friday, June 5, 2009

One piece had been there all along; the other had just come back.

As the Maplesville softball team made it back to the Class 1A state tournament this season for the first time 2005, they were led by an outfielder and leadoff hitter who has grown into a leader since her 7th grade season and a coach rejuvenated by a year away from the program.

Those individuals—junior center fielder Katlyn Freeman and coach Ashlie Harrison—are The Clanton Advertiser’s player and coach of the year.

“I knew we had the ability to make it back to the state tournament if we played together as a team,” Harrison said.

But Freeman wasn’t so sure after the Red Devils struggled in 2008 while Harrison spent the season away from the team in part because of the birth of a daughter, Mallie. Neither player nor coach blamed the struggles on the coaching situation, but just what the Devils could do remained to be seen.

It turned out that the Devils could be very good, and Freeman, who was voted team Most Valuable Player and co-team captain, was perhaps the biggest part of the success. Hitting first in the order, Freeman batted .486, compiled a .566 on-base percentage and stole 26 bases in 27 attempts as the offensive catalyst.

Freeman also excelled defensively in center.

“There were some balls that we never thought could be caught,” Harrison said. “We’ve got a bigger field than most, but not many got past her.”

Freeman had lots of help—from ace pitcher and No. 3 hitter Courtney Killingsworth to lone senior, third baseman and co-team captain Bridget Nichols to catcher Heather Chambers, who was the only other player besides Freeman that was a part of Harrison’s first team, to first-year assistant coach Chad Harrison, who took pressure off Ashlie Harrison and made sure the team had fun.

And everyone is counting on there being more fun to be had, like maybe a return trip to the state tournament for Freeman’s senior season.

“I think we all just liked staying together in the hotel and stuff,” Freeman said. “It brought us closer together.”