What are you when you have reached a status above elite?
Well, Central High softball star McKinnon Howard has reached the new status as she was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Super All-State Softball team Sunday at the annual banquet for the organization. She had earlier earned the ASWA’s AHSAA Class 7A Hitter of the Year award and was selected to the Class 7A All-State team.
Howard’s high school coach said when his graduating senior leftfielder was named Hitter of the Year that she had reached elite status as the first Lady Red Devil player to receive the honor.
“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 said of the earlier honor.
After the All-State Super team was named, Holt had more words to say about Howard.
“I don’t know what has not been said about McKinnon. She is beyond elite for our program,” Holt said. “I am proud of her. Being named to the All-State Super team is a testament to her hard work and dedication. Nothing has come easy for her. She had setbacks, but she kept on working. She went from being a bat girl to being one of the best to ever play the game here. As far as I know, McKinnon is the first player from Central to make the All-State Super team. It’s a lot of firsts for her and our program.”
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.
Hewitt-Trussville High’s Kenleigh Cahalan was named Miss Softball at the ASWA’s banquet. Cahalan, who has committed to Alabama, earlier earned Class 7A Player of the Year after the Huskies infielder batted .549 with 13 home runs, 66 RBIs, 71 runs, 22 doubles, five triples and AHSAA-leading 52 walks. Her .678 on-base and 1.713 OPS led Class 7A while striking out only seven times in 144 at-bats.
Cahalan leads the Super All-State softball list along with Class 7A players Emmah Rolfe of Bob Jones and McKinnon Howard of Central-Phenix City, Class 6A players Emily Simon of Athens and Karsi Lentz of Hartselle, Rylee Gattis of Class 5A Alexandria, Becca Leigh Chadwick of Class 4A Northside, Alexis Milanowski of Class 3A Houston Academy, Riley Vaughn of Class 2A Mars Hill Bible and Alyssa Faircloth of Class 1A Holy Spirit.
The Jimmy Smothers Courage Award, named for the former long-time Gadsden Times sports editor, honors an athlete who overcomes adversity to excel in sports.
Roberts shined for Pike Road in both girls basketball and soccer while also helping take care of a young nephew who was diagnosed with a rare respiratory condition.
She was a multi-year starting point guard in basketball and played goalkeeper this season in soccer. In basketball, Roberts averaged 10 points and 5 assists this year for the Patriots, who reached the Class 5A regional semifinals.