HED:Hall heads area list
By Bobby Pepper
Myrtle shortstop Jessie Hall knew she had a good season in helping her school win the Class 1A state championship in slow-pitch softball.
She just didn't realize how great it was.
"I really didn't think much about it," said Hall, a sophomore. "We just wanted to do our best, try hard and work for it."
What Hall did during Myrtle's 32-8 season was compile some phenomenal hitting and fielding numbers that topped all Northeast Mississippi high school players. For her outstanding season, Hall has been selected by the Daily Journal as the 1997 Area Player of the Year in softball.
Hall was one of 11 players selected to the Journal's 1997 All-Area softball team, regardless of position. It includes another Myrtle player, outfielder Meagan Moorman.
Also making the team were Mooreville's April Hicks and Lacy Malone, Ingomar's Joanna Floyd and Kerrianne Ashley, Kossuth's Nicole Null, Tupelo's Heather Wilemon, New Albany's Tracy Russell, Hatley's Shelly Campbell and Tishomingo County's Cassie Cutshall.
Hicks and Floyd are repeat selections from last year.
Fifteen other players were All-Area honorable mention selections. The All-Area team was selected by the Daily Journal sports staff with assistance from area coaches.
Hall ranked among the area's best in many offensive categories. She batted .686 with 96 hits in 140 at-bats and sported an on-base percentage of .761.
She had 43 extra-base hits 19 doubles, 12 triples and 12 home runs and drove in 56 runs. Her slugging percentage was 1.250 and she racked up 175 total bases. In the field, Hall committed just 15 errors at shorstop.
Hall's coach, Elvis Thomas, said he expected Hall to do well this season. He added that Hall had a lot of help from her teammates as they won the season's only state championship by a Daily Journal-area team.
"Jessie had a very good year," he said. "She had a good season the year before. I really don't know if she had that much a better year than last year since the rest of the girls had a better year.
"Anytime your team looks good, it makes her look even better."
Hall, a three-year starter at shortstop, said teamwork helped the Lady Hawks win the state championship in just their first year in the playoffs.
"Most of our team has been playing together since we were real small," she said. "We worked together for a long time. Almost all of our infielders are from our traveling team from the summer.
"We were kind of surprised that we could do it in our first year in the playoffs. But, I felt like we had a good chance from the very beginning."
Hall is looking forward to two more great years as a softball player at Myrtle, but adds she will especially remember the '97 state title season.
"I thank God for giving me the ability to play, my teammates for their help and support and my family for standing beside me all the way," she said. "There were plenty of things we could have been doing, but they put their time and money into this to support me."
Northeast Mississippi was loaded with power hitters during the 1997 softball season, and the All-Area team reflects that. Also making the team in addition to Myrtle's Jessie Hall were:
Meagan Moorman, Myrtle: The junior outfielder batted .600 (84 hits) with 31 doubles, nine homers and 65 RBIs. Her on-base percentage was .620 and her slugging percentage was .997.
April Hicks, Mooreville: Hicks, a senior third baseman, hit .564 (79 hits) with 11 doubles, eight triples and 62 RBIs. Her on-base percentage was .650, and she batted .614 with runners in scoring position.
Lacy Malone, Mooreville: A senior outfielder, Malone led Mooreville in total bases with 127 and batted .517 (75 hits), including five doubles, 13 triples and seven home runs. Her fielding percentage was .931.
Nicole Null, Kossuth: The Lady Aggies' senior shortstop earned MVP honors in Division 1-3A by hitting .613 (84 hits) with 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 60 RBIs. Her on-base percentage was .642.
Joanna Floyd, Ingomar: The senior outfielder and leadoff batter batted .652 with 12 doubles, seven triples and three home runs. She scored 68 runs, drove in 23 and had an on-base percentage of .724.
Kerrianne Ashley, Ingomar: The senior first baseman led Northeast Mississippi in RBIs with 71. She batted .561 with five doubles, seven triples and seven home runs for the Class 1A state runner-up.
Tracy Russell, New Albany: Russell, a junior outfielder, led the Lady Bulldogs back to the Class 3A state finals with a .587 batting average (84 hits), 14 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Heather Wilemon, Tupelo: The junior outfielder helped Tupelo make the Class 5A playoffs by hitting .480 (47 hits) with six doubles, six triples, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, Her slugging percentage was .969 and her fielding percentage was .947.
Cassie Cutshall, Tishomingo County: The junior first baseman batted .617 (58 hits) with four home runs and 49 RBIs for the Class 4A Lady Braves. She made only three errors at first base.
Shelly Campbell, Hatley: The senior outfielder led the Lady Tigers with a .530 batting average. She hit nine doubles, five triples and 11 home runs and drove in 59 RBIs.
Earning honorable mention for the All-Area team were the following players: Brandie Mullins, OF, Kossuth; Casey Clouse, OF, Mooreville; Dreka Shumpert, SS, Mooreville; Summer Carouthers, INF, Nettleton; Letesha Seals, OF, Nettleton; Laura Carpenter, SS, Smithville; Lakisha O'Briant, SS, East Webster; Mitzi Whiteside, 3B, New Albany; Sabrina Mayo, SS, South Pontotoc; Jennifer Whitley, SS, New Site; Andrea Cross, OF, Ingomar; Amy Brown, 3B, Tishomingo County; Marsha Jenkins, OF, Hamilton; Leigh Jurney, C, Amory; and Denita Ruff, OF, Shannon.