Blackwell headed to all-star tournament

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 2, 2009

NATCHEZ — As a coach, Gary Blackwell is proud of his all-star outfielder.

As a father, he beams about his daughter’s accomplishments on the softball diamond.

Cathedral senior Elizabeth Blackwell was named to the Mississippi Coaches Association 1A/2A/3A South All-Star slow-pitch softball team and will play in the game against the North Jun. 19 at Newton County High School.

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Elizabeth was the only Miss-Lou player named to the team and one of three Region 8-1A players selected. Julie Case of West Lincoln and Bogue Chitto’s Kelli Howard were also selected among the 48 state players.

But Cathedral’s coach said he did not expect to get much out of his nomination of Elizabeth and teammate Anna Huffines.

“I never really even dreamed we would get picked from around here,” he said. “We were just at home, and at 9 p.m. coach (Mark Fanning) called and said Elizabeth had been chosen. It was a big honor, and I was shocked and proud.”

Elizabeth, who also plays fast-pitch softball for the Lady Green Wave, has been playing softball since she was 8 years old and was around it before then.

She traveled to her older sister’s games and went with Gary to his own events.

“She would always warm up with me and made me throw it as hard as I could throw it to her,” her father said. “When she was learning to play, she would make me throw the ball as high as I possibly could into the air so she could catch it.”

Gary said his daughter has always had a good eye for the ball and was on summer league and tournament teams growing up.

She played rover for Cathedral this season and has played every outfield position.

“She can cover the outfield pretty good,” Gary said. “I’m sure that’s why she was chosen to play, for her glove. And she actually ended up with the best batting average this year — .600 for the season. That probably had something to do with it.”

Elizabeth plans to attend Mississippi State University in the fall.

Her dad said she doesn’t want to play collegiate softball, although she may join an intramural team.

And while Gary is proud of the outfielder for her accomplishments on the field, he said he can’t help but let his role as a father take over.

“It’s an honor for our small school to have someone selected, but it is a big honor especially as a coach and a father,” he said. “I get a little double excitement there.”