When two-time Miracle Sports Class 7A Pitcher of the Year Alissa Humphrey graduated from Gainesville High last year, there was doubt in the area that the Hurricanes could win a district championship without her.
However, GHS (18-7) made up for the loss of Humphrey at the plate, where the ‘Canes batted .377 as a team to win the Class 5A-District 3 title and earn their sixth straight playoff appearance.
In recognition of their 2021 performances, a panel of local sports writers and coaches chose four Hurricanes for the inaugural Mainstreet Daily News/The Prep Zone All Area Softball Team for big schools. Each of the GHS standouts—Addison Joseph (1B), Ayanna Woodard (SS), and outfielders Parris Wiggs and Jayla Clark—will receive a commemorative plaque, along with the other 40 players and coaches recognized this week.
Joseph, a senior, transferred from Pennsylvania and only played one season, but she made her presence felt in a big way. She raked at a .412 clip with nine doubles, one triple, two home runs and 22 RBI.
“She was a huge addition to our lineup this year,” said Gainesville coach Chris Chronister. “She brought a lot of energy to the team. She gave us a great stick in the middle of the lineup.”
Woodard, who recently signed with Santa Fe College, batted over .500 for most of the season and finished with a .488 average. She led the team with 41 runs scored and added 10 doubles, three triples and 18 RBI.
“I would take Ayanna Woodard over anybody that is out there at shortstop, and probably not even just this area, but most of the state,” Chronister said.
Wiggs has been a starter since her freshman season. The junior led GHS with a .533 average and a team-leading 49 hits and 35 RBI. She added nine doubles, one triple, and four home runs.
“She’s just an all-around athlete,” Chronister said. “She’s been a shut down third baseman for us, she’s great in the outfield, but her biggest asset is her bat. She definitely brings it offensively for us.”
Clark, also a junior, batted .397 with 31 hits, 17 RBI, with three doubles and a home run.
“Comparatively to my previous season, I think I did really well,” Clark said. “I’ve improved batting average-wise, especially my confidence, and in center field as well, being more of a leader.”
The battery included pitcher Madi Hewett of Santa Fe (Alachua) and catcher Reece Chasteen of Columbia (Lake City).
Hewett helped lead the Raiders to a state playoff appearance as Class 3A-District 2 runners-up. The junior batted .492 with a team-leading 36 RBI and 12 home runs. In the circle, she had a 3.53 earned run average with 130 strikeouts and only 44 walks in 107 innings pitched.
Chasteen was one of two Tigers to make the team. The senior batted .588—the top mark on the All Area team—with 14 doubles and a Columbia-leading 23 RBI.
“Reece is a dynamic player and athlete,” said Columbia coach Trudy Andrews. “She has been a role model for our younger girls and been somebody to kind of leave a legacy that other girls will aspire to match. She’s been my go-to for anything.”
Senior outfielder Caitlyn O’Sullivan also earned a spot after batting .443 with 15 RBI. She was second on the Tigers with 27 hits and added eight doubles, one triple and one home run.
“She is a hard worker,” Andrews said of O’Sullivan. “She will do and play any position that you need her to play. She’s had to step up and pitch and she’s just always come through for us.”
A pair of Keystone Heights players rounded out the infield—sophomore Kiley Channell (2B) and junior Kinley Carlton (3B).
Channell batted .346 with 21 RBI, four doubles, one triple and two home runs, while Carlton led the Indians with a .443 average, 35 hits and 29 RBI. She also hit three doubles and three home runs.
Rounding out the All Area team is outfielder Takeira Bakken of Bradford (Starke). The sophomore finished with a .421 average and led the Tornadoes with 23 RBI. She added six doubles, two triples and registered three of her team’s four home runs.
This is the second of a five-part series on the 2021 All Area baseball and softball teams, presented by Mainstreet Daily News and The Prep Zone. To read about the small school softball squad, click here. To see the full softball roster and honorable mentions, click here.