In softball, the most likely position for a dominating performance is pitcher.
The finalists for The Daily’s Class 5A-7A Favorite Players of the Year contest dominated games, but none of the three were pitchers. They dominated games with their bats and their gloves.
Lawrence County’s Mallory Patterson (2012) received the most votes in the semifinal round with 2,549. She just squeezed by Hartselle’s Kylie Winton (2018 and 2019), who received 2,511. Lawrence County’s Sallie Beth Burch (2007) took third with 1,004 votes.
Voting in the finals begins today and lasts for three days. First round or semifinal votes do not carry over to the finals.
Patterson was a first team Class 5A All-State selection in 2102 when she hit .438 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. The Red Devils set a school record with 51 wins on the way to a fifth-place finish in the state tournament.
As good as the offensive numbers were, Patterson’s defensive marks as a catcher where just as impressive. During her senior season, she picked off 16 base runners while throwing out 13 of 24 trying to steal.
“She also made our pitchers better,” then Lawrence County coach Amy Speegle said. “Our pitchers weren’t overpowering, and it was important for them to hit their spots. Mallory did a great job of framing pitches. The impact she had on our team from behind the plate was huge.”
Patterson went on to play at North Alabama.
Burch was the 2007 Class 4A Player of the Year and was named to the All-State Super 10 team. She led Lawrence County’s first team to make an appearance in the fast-pitch state tournament.
The defensive whiz split time between shortstop and second. She led the Red Devils (49-17) in nine offensive categories, which included a .464 batting average with 85 hits, 18 doubles, 61 runs scored and 60 RBIs. She set the school record with 13 home runs that Patterson would match in 2012.
Burch went on to star at Wallace State and Jacksonville State, where she now is part of the coaching staff.
Winton had a magical 2018 season capped by driving in the winning run in the state championship game with a single in extra innings for a walk-off victory over Saraland. She went 3-for-4 in that game with a home run and double.
The Tigers’ centerfielder was named the Class 6A Player of the Year. She hit .448 with 35 extra base hits, including 16 home runs, and had 48 RBIs.
Winton shared the Player of the Year honor in 2019 with teammate Kallie Cartee. After hitting .408 in her senior season with 15 home runs, 43 RBIs and 63 runs scored, Winton decided not to play college softball.
The final voting for Class 5A-7A baseball started Wednesday and has two more days of voting. On Friday, it’s Class 1A-4A baseball. Then on Sunday it will be Class 1A-4A softball.
Remember to go to decaturdaily.com to vote. You do not need an online subscription to be able to vote, but a first-time online subscription is just $6 for six months.