By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
For the second straight year, the Times-Tribune Fastpitch Player of the Year award will be shared by two players and for the second straight year, Corbin's Hannah Hart is one of those players, joining South Laurel's Amber Hyde as the 2013 Times-Tribune Fastpitch Co-Players of the Year.
Hyde turned in a stellar senior campaign, guiding the Lady Cardinals to their first 13th Region championship dating back to the 2006 season while also being named to the East All-Star team.
She led all Tri-County players with 13 home runs while finishing the season with some impressive numbers — Hyde collected 54 RBIs along with 57 hits. She also batted .449 on the season and had 18 doubles. She also turned in one of the best performances in 13th Region Tournament championship game history by going 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple and seven RBIs.
“Amber was my pick for Miss Softball,” South Laurel coach James Burns said. “She was a very good catcher and really could play any position for us. She hit the ball hard and finished the season with 13 home runs, which was three short of Emily Gaines’ record of 16. We had 10 games rained out this season and if we could have played those games, that record could have been in jeopardy.”
Hyde becomes the fourth different player from South Laurel to capture the Player of the Year award. It also marks the ninth straight year a player from either North or South Laurel High School has won or shared the award.
This marks the second straight year Hart has won the Tri-County's top award. She turned in a solid junior campaign that was good enough for the Class 2A's Player of the Year award along with being named 13th Region Player of the Year.
Hart won 20 games in the circle for Corbin this season while striking out 209 batters in 195 innings. She also had a 1.58 ERA and only gave up 44 earned runs the entire season.
She also batted .467 on the season with 56 hits in 120 at-bats while driving in 24 runs, collecting 18 doubles while leading the team with an on-base percentage of .508 and slugging percentage of .617.
In addition to her numbers, she just recently verbally committed to play softball for Morehead State University in the fall of 2014.
“I’m extremely proud of Hannah’s accomplishments this year,” Corbin coach and Hannah’s father Chris Hart said. “Getting both of these honors has shown that her hard work has paid off. Our goal was having her make First Team All-State and she was able to accomplish that.
“Last year, a lot wasn’t expected, but this season a target was on her back and she did great,” he added. “She really worked hard this season and put in a lot of work. It was really exciting for her to get these honors and I’m very proud of her.”
South Laurel’s Taran Johnson was named the Player of the Year in 2005, while teammate Morgan Alsip won the honor in 2006. North Laurel’s Abby Sears captured the award in 2007 and shared it with Emily Gaines in 2008. Gaines won it again in 2009 and 2010 while North Laurel’s Gloriann Cordero won it in 2011 and Hart shared the award with North Laurel's Kristin Fields in 2012.
Joining Hyde and Hart on the All Tri-County team (top 14 players in the Tri-County, not by position) are Barbourville's Makaela Rose, Corbin's Lindsey Barton and Whitley Gatliff, Knox Central's Allison Swafford, North Laurel's Mikayla Vires, Vanessa Smith, Emily Sears and Kailin Yantz, South Laurel's Hagan Burns, Megan Smith, Cassandra Johnson, Brittany Vandaventer and Bailey Miller and Whitley County's Jaden Dopel.
The 2013 Times-Tribune
All Tri-County Team
Makaela Rose, Barbourville — Rose turned in a fantastic senior campaign as a Lady Tiger. She was named to Class A's Honorable Mention Team. Rose batted .431 on the season while collecting three home runs and 24 RBIs while finishing with 25 hits and team-best numbers in on-base percentage (.550) and slugging percentage (.741).
Lindsey Barton, Corbin — Barton was named to the East Junior All-Star team this season while batting .336 with 41 hits, 30 runs scored and two triples.
Whitley Gatliff, Corbin — Gatliff batted .346 in 2013 with 37 hits, 13 doubles, a team-best 27 RBI while finishing with 19 runs scored.
Allison Swafford, Knox Central (no stats provided) — Swafford turned in another solid season for the Lady Panthers during her senior year.
Mikayla Vires, North Laurel (no stats provided) — Vires was a solid hitter and one of the best right fielders in the state and she's only a freshman. She also saw time in the circle and turned in some impressive showings.
Vanessa Smith, North Laurel — Smith was one of North Laurel's top offensive and defensive players.
Emily Sears, North Laurel (no stats provided) — Sears has been named to the Kentucky All-Star team along with being named an East All-Star squad. She was a solid hitter and third baseman for the Lady Jaguars.
Kailin Yantz, North Laurel — Yantz had a fantastic freshman season for the Lady Jaguars.
Hagan Burns, South Laurel — Burns did a lot of damage at the plate and in the circle for South Laurel. She had two home runs and 36 RBIs while batting .353. She also posted a 15-6 record in the circle for the Lady Cardinals while garnering 102 strikeouts and a 1.06 ERA.
Megan Smith, South Laurel — Smith had four home runs and 21 RBIs for the Lady Cardinals while batting .312 this past season. She also posted an impressive 12-2 mark in the circle along with a 2.30 ERA and 72 Ks.
Cassandra Johnson, South Laurel — Johnson was a solid shortstop for the Lady Cardinals and finished the season at the plate with a .407 batting average, three home runs, 25 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 55 hits and 46 runs scored.
Brittany Vandaventer, South Laurel — Vandaventer was one of the best third basemen around. She also did damage at the plate, batting a team-best .455 on the season with 45 hits, 15 stolen bases, 35 runs scored, one home run and 31 RBIs.
Bailey Miller, South Laurel — Miller was one of the best left-handed hitters in the 13th Region this season. She finished with a .372 batting average, 42 hits, 20 runs scored, 23 RBIs and 11 doubles.