Watson named District 12-4A Softball Pitcher of the Year, Casey Carper Co-Defensive Player of Year
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

May 19, 2005 - After finishing second in District 12-4A softball this season, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats had appropriately the second-most players voted to the All-District team by coaches last week.

That included a pair of superlative honors as junior Hailey Watson was named Pitcher of the Year and senior infielder Casey Carper was Co-Defensive Player of the Year with Texas High's Miracle Thurston.

In addition, SSHS senior first baseman Stephanie Kethley and junior shortstop Tara Gibby grabbed First Team honors, and senior third baseman Ne-Ne Hynson, senior outfielder Betsy Blount and sophomore outfielder Brittany Moore were all Second Team selections. Junior catcher Nichole Fender was an honorable mention choice.

"Getting second in district, you hope to have a couple of superlatives, and I definitely felt like Casey and Hailey should get something," said SSHS head coach John McCullough, whose team finished 8-2 in 12-4A play and 18-10-2 overall.

"Hailey was a unanimous selection, and Casey and Miracle were clearly the two best defensive players in the district, and they both got the same number of votes," McCullough said. "I think that shows the coaches really respected what those girls could do."

Carper made just two errors in district play, both coming in the first 12-4A game at shortstop. She then moved back to her natural position at second base and had 17 put outs and 25 assists without a miscue. She also led the team in hitting (.438 average), hits (14), base on balls (eight) and stolen bases (10-out-of-11).

Watson pitched all but one inning of every district game, compiling an 8-2 record and 0.88 ERA and an opponents' batting average of just .193. She threw 71 1/3 innings, giving up 52 hits and 17 walks while striking out 43. She also batted .286 in loop play, with a team-high 11 runs and four doubles to go along with eight hits, nine RBI and three sacrifices.

Other superlative honors went to Texas High sophomore pitcher Kelsey Harrington as Most Valuable Player and her classmate Monica Choate as Offensive MVP. Kaci Crawford of North Lamar shared Freshman of the Year honor with Paris' Julie Essary, while NL freshman Kara Crawford was named Newcomer of the Year.

Kethley was a unanimous First Team choice after leading the district with 12 RBI in 10 games. She hit .265 with four doubles and two sacrifices. Defensively, she had a .972 fielding percentage.

"She had some clutch at-bats for us, which shows in the 12 RBI she had," McCullough said.

Gibby also was a First Team pick after hitting .353 in eight games with two stolen bases and a .412 slugging percentage. She also had a pair of hits in the bi-district game.

"She had a good district season, especially the second half," McCullough said.

Blount hit .160 with four hits, three RBI, three runs and a walk in district play.

Moore, who played right field for the first time in her career, ended district with a .200 batting average with seven runs, two doubles and a home run, four RBI, two walks and two stolen bases.

Hynson, batting in the No. 2 spot in the order, ended district with a .267 aveage, a team-high 11 runs, five sacrifices and two extra-base hits.

Fender also batted .267 with eight hits and an RBI. She also threw out 60 percent of the would-be base stealers.

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