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Five Grafton softball players and one Tabb player were named 4A South All-Region selections by coaches within the region.
Outfielder Christa Hall, third baseman Jessie Sprouse and shortstop Tara Deck were first-team selections for Grafton, which was eliminated in the state tournament semifinals 6-0 by Woodgrove.
Hall, a senior, was second on the team in batting average (.390) and drove in a team-high 22 runs as the Clippers’ leadoff batter.
“Christa is Christa. She’s a beast,” Grafton head coach Vanessa Young said. “She has one of the best arms in the outfield that we’ve seen in a long time. We put her in the leadoff spot because we wanted her to hit the ball as many times as she can.”
In her junior campaign, Sprouse held a .377 batting average for the Clippers, driving in 16 runs and stealing five bases. Despite strong batting numbers, Young said Sprouse’s biggest contribution to the team came off the field.
“She was a leader on and off the field,” Young said of Sprouse. “The girls look up to her. She stays after practice if anyone needs help. She’s definitely a team player and was instrumental to us getting to where we got.”
A hard-hitting junior, Deck held a .342 batting average and drove in 14 runs. Deck was tasked with taking over the starting shortstop role for Grafton despite not playing the position before at the varsity level. Young praised Deck’s ability to learn the position quickly.
“She had to step in and fill a pretty big spot,” she said. “Shortstop is a key position on any team and she stepped up to the challenge and earned it.”
The Clippers also had a pair of second-team selections: pitcher Kayley Cox and first baseman Marika Whitlatch.
Young said she was a little surprised Cox was named a second-team selection instead of a first-team selection, but said Cox’s stats late in the season might have played a factor. Cox posted an 18-5 record with a 1.76 ERA, but showed signs of arm fatigue during regional and state tournament play.
“She threw for us 99 percent of the innings. I think she got a little bit tired toward the end of the season because she had to throw so much,” Young said of Cox. “She was key for us getting where we did. I definitely believe she’s an all-region selection.”
Whitlatch, the final Grafton All-Region selection, started at first base all season and held a .316 batting average with 19 RBIs.
Tabb, which finished the season at 11-11, had one player earn second-team All-Region honors. Freshman outfielder Amber Verstynen posted a .540 batting average and a .590 on-base percentage. She also displayed speed on the bases with 15 steals during the season.
“She sets the table for the rest of the team in the leadoff spot,” Tabb head coach Brian Verstynen said. “I was very excited to see the way she read defenses and adapted to the pitchers in the district. She’s been playing at a high level in travel ball for awhile. I don’t think she was intimidated as a freshman to the style of pitching.”
Below are the All-Region selections:
Player of the Year: Sydney Gay, Smithfield
Coach of the Year: Mark Rutherford, Deep Creek
Pitcher: Ryn Boelter, Deep Creek
Pitcher: Julia Fritz, Glen Allen
Pitcher: Sydney Gay, Smithfield
Catcher: Daja Burgee, Deep Creek
First Base: Kaylyn Shepherd, Hanover
Second Base: Jac Mounie, Nansemond River
Third Base: Jessie Sprouse, Grafton
Shortstop: Tara Deck, Grafton
Outfield: Mackenzie Wyatt, Hanover
Outfield: Christa Hall, Grafton
Outfield: Morgan Lowers, Nansemond River
Outfield: Alli Brewer, Deep Creek
Flex: Meredith Throckmorton, Smithfield
Utility: Mason Basdikis, Powhatan
Pitcher: Kayley Cox, Grafton
Pitcher: Lauren Maddrey, Nansemond River
Pitcher: Sydney Wash, King’s Fork
Catcher: Hannah Rogers, Smithfield
First Base: Marika Whitlatch, Grafton
Second Base: Morgan Riddle, Smithfield
Third Base: Ayanna Sallee, Deep Creek
Shortstop: Katelynn Hodgkiss, Nansemond River
Outfield: Caitlin Stout, Dinwiddie
Outfield: Hannah Fritz, Glen Allen
Outfield: Amber Verstynen, Tabb
Utility: Ashlyn Rogers, Nansemond River