Howard best hitter, five Lady Gators selected first team all-state by ASWA

Central High Lady Red Devil McKinnon Howard (above) was named the Hitter of the Year in AHSAA’s Class 7A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association for 2022. Howard batted .587, the best-ever in the school’s fast-pitch softball history, with 91 hits in 155 at-bats. She also set a new record for stolen bases with 80. 

 

The Alabama Sports Writers Association announced its All-State softball teams this past Sunday for all eight classes in the sport. Two local teams were well-represented in their classifications. And one player captured one of the top honors as the best hitter in her classification.

McKinnon Howard, a senior outfielder for Central High’s Lady Red Devils, was named the Best Hitter in AHSAA Class 7A. In 49 games, Howard compiled a .587 batting average, the best in school fast-pitch softball history, with 91 hits in 155 at-bats. She had 85 singles, two doubles, two triples and a home run. She had 23 RBI, scored 78 runs, second-best in the school’s history, and stole a school-record of 80 bases with a 95.24 stolen base percentage. Her 191 stolen bases in her career is the second-best in Central fast-pitch softball history. Howard is a Wallace-Huntsville commit.

“McKinnon being picked as the Hitter of the Year was huge not only for her, but for our program. It tells you where we are as a program. Again, it is the first time we have ever had a Player of the Year at the state level and that puts her in elite company. She has worked as hard as anyone and deserves it,” Central coach Mitchell Holt.

The Glenwood Lady Gators took five of the 16 slots on the ASWA’s AISA first team all-state squad. Ariana Pinder and Kaylin Fincher, both seniors, lead the group which also includes junior Simone Gillispie and sophomores Anna Grace Griggs and Olivia Slocumb.

Pinder finished her senior year with 18 wins against four losses and posted a 1.70 ERA. The other four, according to Glenwood coach Josh McConnell, were the leaders at the plate for his Lady Gators.

“Everyone of these girls deserved to be selected. They were great at the plate, in the field and off the field. It is phenomenal for us, as a school, to have that many girls make first team,” McConnell said.

Rounding out Central’s representatives on the ASWA 7A first team was Kamryn Hammock, a freshman infielder. Hammock, like Howard, played in all 49 of the Lady Red Devils’ games, had a .420 batting average with 66 hits of which 51 were singles, 10 were doubles, four were triples and one was a home run. She also led the team with 75 RBI which tied the school record.. She is the first freshman to be named all-state from the Central fast-pitch program.

“Kam making first team as a freshman is the first time in program history that we’ve had a freshman named so highly and that puts into perspective the season she had. We have had some very good players throughout the years and anytime you’re the first you are special,” Holt said.

Central had two more players selected for the ASWA second team – Kristen White and Bria Allen. White, a senior outfielder, posted numbers worthy of her selection with a .547 batting average in 48 games. She had 81 hits of which 62 were singles, 10 doubles, five triples and four were home runs. She had 37 RBI, scored 64 runs and stole 58 bases with a 96.67 stolen base percentage. White had a school record 252 stolen bases in her career Her marks of a .493 career batting average and 285 career runs scored are also school records. Allen, a sophomore selected as a designated hitter, batted .406 with 63 hits in 49 games of which 35 were singles, 19 were doubles, three were triples and six were home runs. She had 65 RBI and scored 32 runs for the Lady Red Devils.

“Kristen and Bria are both on the second team and both could have easily been on the first team. I would not trade those two for anyone else in the state. Bria has made second team twice (2021 and 2022) and this is Kristen’s second time on the second team (2018 and 2022) and made first team in 2021). I am unbelievably proud of our girls for making all-state. The past few years our teams have been able to get more recognition at the state level. We had a team full of players who deserved to be recognized,” Holt said.

The Super 12 softball team will be announced at the ASWA’s annual banquet on June 12 in Birmingham.