Locals picked as all-stars

Published 1:03 am Sunday, October 21, 2007

CENTREVILLE — For three local players and a coach, years of hard work were rewarded by the MPSA last week.

Centreville players Emily and Erin Gaulden, Trinity player Alyx Atkinson and Centreville coach Mark Mann were selected to play for the South team in the MPSA Fast-Pitch All-Star Game which will take place Monday at Mississippi College in Clinton.

The first game of the doubleheader will start at 3:30 p.m., with the second game to follow immediately. Both games will go seven innings. The South and North All-Star Teams are a conglomeration of some of the best seniors from Class A, AA and AAA.

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The Gauldens were key players in the Lady Tigers’ 31-11 season in which they won the District 5-AA and Class AA South State Championships and made their first appearance in the Class AA State Championship game since 2004.

“They were surprised for one and very excited at the same time,” Mann said. “It’s going to be exciting to see the girls you’ve played against so much all year and now they all get together and play as a team.”

And with Mann being one of the assistant coaches on the South team, “it gives me another outing with two of my four seniors, Emily and Erin.”

Gaulden said she was very excited when coach Mann told her she was selected.

“We were really excited and overwhelmed. We always wanted to be on the All-Star team. We are really excited to get the opportunity to be on the All-Star team. It’s going to be really fun.”

Emily Gaulden not only put good numbers on the mound, but also at the plate. She went 29-8 with an earned run average of 0.83. Among those 29 wins were 13 shutouts and two no-hitters. In the 205 innings she pitched, she struck out an astounding 230 batters, allowed just 128 hits and walked only 69 batters. She also had a .379 batting average, a .484 on-base percentage and led the team in hits with 44.

Erin Gaulden threw out 12 runners this season. She finished with a .309 batting average, a .460 on-base percentage, scored 26 runs, and struck out a mere six times in 128 at-bats.

“There are so many nominated and only 15 are named,” Mann said. “It not only shows what the coaches in the district think about you, but what other coaches in the South think about your ability. It’s also an award for having a good senior season.”

Mann also noted that while neither Emily or Erin are too much on individual awards, they will tell you that without their teammates, they would not be in this position.

As for being selected as one of the coaches on the South team, Mann said, “I’m thrilled to death. It’s something I’ve never done before.”

Another player who will be participating on the South team is Trinity Episcopal senior pitcher Alyx Atkinson, who helped the Lady Saints to the Class AA South State Tournament in just their second year of fast-pitch softball.

“We had a meeting about it. On Oct. 5, the coaches had a meeting and selected the All-Stars, and she was one of them,” Trinity Episcopal head coach Sue Geter said.

As to how Atkinson found out she was selected an All-Star, Geter said, “I told her. I got her out of class and told her. She was excited. She was honored. She can’t wait till she plays Monday. Watching her play and seeing her dedication and her leadership, she should be on every team. I wish I had 15 Alyxes on my team.”

Atkinson had 5.36 strikeouts per game and 1.09 strikeouts per inning. She struck out over 21 percent of the batters she faced. She allowed just under three walks per game and less than one walk per inning. She also had a gaudy .564 batting average.

“It’s an opportunity most people don’t get to experience in high school,” Atkinson said. “I’m excited to be playing in it.”

She added that this is a nice way to end her senior season. As for her first thoughts after finding out she made the All-Star team, Atkinson said, “I need to start practicing again and boost my pitching up to four times a week.”

And there will be some players on the South All-Star team that the three faced last season, including Casey Alexander of Amite School Center, Alyssa Boutwell of Columbia Academy and Katie Kincaid of Franklin Academy.

“We know some of the players that are on the team,” Erin Gaulden said. “We have respect for those players because they work so hard. It’s going to be a really fun experience. I’m very honored. It’s a great honor and opportunity to show what you have and be with such great players.”

As for Emily Gaulden and Boutwell being on the same team after several memorable pitchers’ duels during the 2007 season, Erin said, “We played on the same tournament team as Alyssa did. They really bring out the best in each other.”

And it could be one final chance for Erin to catch for Emily.

“It’s really fun because I have to calm her down sometimes,” Erin said. “I really can’t imagine catching for anyone else and having so much fun.”