Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local Sports

June 11, 2014

Fouts, Reynolds named to all-area softball team

Shelton, Hall and Wiler earn Honorable Mention honors

June 11, 2014 — Megan Hensley crafted the kind of softball season most players only dream about.

So good, in fact, that the Ashland junior was selected as the Gatorade Kentucky Softball Player of the Year.

At the same time, Boyd County shortstop Taylor Wheeler put the finishing touches on an amazing two-sport career at Boyd County.

This past week, the two standouts were recognized as The Independent’s 2014 All-Area Pitcher and Player of the Year at the annual award presentation.

Area coaches voted Hensley the top pitcher for the second year in a row. She led the Kittens to a sixth consecutive 16th Region championship.

“Megan can do it all,” Ashland coach Dave Miller said. “She’s been fantastic in the circle and hits as well as she pitches. The girl deserves everything she’s gotten. She’s such a competitor and her talent level is through the ceiling.”   

The 5-foot-8 right-hander has played a major role in the Kittens’ streak of regional titles. She entered this week’s State Tournament with a 28-4 pitching record and 369 strikeouts in just over 200 innings this spring. Hensley also carried a .561 batting average, including 24 extra-base hits, and 42 runs batted in.   

“People are aware of the pitching, but Megan’s hit for a tremendous average against some really good pitching. She hits for power and runs the bases very well,” Miller said. “She’s a total-package kid.”

Hensley enjoys doing her part in Ashland’s success.

“Dave is a great coach, obviously, and I couldn’t ask for better team,” she said. “When anybody makes a mistake, we pick each other up.”

Hensley continues to hone her skills by playing the sport year-round. She plays for a travel team out of Louisville.

“I think I have two weekends off until October,” Hensley said.

Wheeler also put up huge numbers this season, but the Player of the Year caught her off guard.

“It was definitely surprising for me. I was not expecting it,” she said.    

Wheeler batted .479 as a senior with eight home runs, 53 runs and 41 RBIs — all team highs — as well as an eye-popping 52 stolen bases in 53 attempts to lead the area.

“It’s a great honor and I think well-deserved,” Boyd County coach Geoff Stewart said. “To me, she’s one of the best all-around players this region has seen in a long time. It’s a great honor to culminate a seven-year career.”

The only thing missing for Wheeler was a regional title.

“It definitely didn’t end how I wanted it to,” she said. “I wish I could still be playing, but it was a fun year. Of all of them, this was probably the best.”

Wheeler’s best friend — 2013 All-Area Co-Player of the Year Emily Stewart — graduated last spring. However, Wheeler said she developed other relationships, especially with some of Boyd County’s younger players.

“Hopefully they will do great things, and hopefully I set an example,” Wheeler said. “The goal for me and the other seniors (Bri Crooks and Alex Meade) was to have them look up to us.”

Wheeler’s career is one for the Boyd County record books: .467 average; 225 hits, 168 runs, 157 RBIs and 130 steals. She racked up 88 extra base hits, including 26 home runs and 55 doubles.

“Taylor does everything well,” Stewart said. “Along with her athletic ability, she understands the little things about the game.”

Maybe the best example is how Wheeler developed an uncanny ability to swipe bases, taking advantage of any opportunity.

“I would guesstimate that 24 or 25 of her stolen bases this season were the delayed variety,” Stewart said. “She’s so observant of what’s going on around her. She was stealing on pitchers and catchers.”

Wheeler, who shared All-Area Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, also leaves Boyd County as the school’s all-time leading scorer in basketball.  

She’s currently playing on the W.Va. Dusters travel squad with Boyd County teammate Kenzi Martin and Menifee County’s Erika Brewer.

All-Area Coach of the Year went to East Carter’s Derek Calhoun. The Lady Raiders broke a school recorded for wins by finishing 28-6 in Calhoun’s fifth season.

“It’s a great honor to be chosen by coaches in the 16th Region,” said Calhoun, who declined to take credit for the team’s success. “We’ve got girls that come out and work hard. They want to be the best. I can’t say enough about all the work my assistants put in.”

All-Area voting was conducted prior to the 16th Region Tournament. Calhoun received four of 10 votes cast by area coaches. Miller and Stewart were next with two apiece.  

Ashland defeated East Carter 2-0 in the opening round of the regional tournament and went on to win its sixth consecutive championship in Miller’s final season.

“He has a very good team and a great staff around him,” Calhoun said. “I told our girls, that’s where I want our program to be. We just have to work harder.”

East Carter featured one of the state’s top young players. Montana Fouts, the only eighth-grader on the All-Area team, dominated in the circle with an 18-3 record and .160 ERA while also batting .411.

Boyd County led All-Area selections with five. Crooks (.370, 34 runs, 31 RBI), Martin (.379, 38 runs, 29 steals) and Lora Thompson were part of a strong lineup that helped propel the Lady Lions to a 24-13 record and district title. Thompson pitched and played third base, posting an 11-5 record with 141 strikeouts and also batted .365, including seven homers and 37 RBI.

Ashland’s Hensley is joined by teammates McKenzie Vanover and Megan Griffith (.346, 34 runs, 34 RBI). Vanover is second on the state’s career homer list after reaching double figures as a junior and senior. She took a .451 batting average with 13 dingers into the State Tournament.

Also saying goodbye will be Russell standout Hannah Carter (.417, .973 fielding pct.) and four All-Area pitcher/hitters — Brewer (249 Ks, 0.881 ERA, .444 BA), Russell’s Mallory Powell (.398), Lawrence County’s Samantha Fitzpatrick (.429, 7 HRs, 36 RBIs) and West Carter’s Leatha Reynolds (.435). Lady Comets coach Jess Cordery called her the “six-year heartbeat of the team.”

Other selections included Greenup County juniors Brooke Johnson (2.85 ERA, 122 Ks) and Jordan Moore (.392 BA); Raceland’s Savannah Mackie (.343, 27 RBIs); Fairview’s Maddie Kirk ).462, 24 RBIs); Johnson Central’s Rachelle Fairchild (.440, 4 HRs,, 30 RBIs); Rowan County’s Courtnae Bolander (.408, 34 RBIs); Lewis County junior pitcher Kelsey Rizzo (school season and career stikeout leader with 141 and 291); and Fleming County’s Cristi Petersen (.451).

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