SPORTS YEAR IN REVIEW – September-December
Belgreen volleyball has best season in history of program
The Belgreen Lady Bulldogs finished their regular volleyball season with the best record they have had in the team’s six-year program – a momentous feat in itself. However, as the saying goes, “but that’s not all.”
The Lady Bulldogs won their first round at Super-Regionals Thursday – a historic first for Belgreen, which made it as far as Super-Regionals by winning their first round of the Area tournament, defeating Hackleburg, Oct. 17.
In the Super-Regionals in Huntsville, versus Berry, Coach Teresa Whitten said her girls really showed what they were made of.
“This year we faced Berry, who was their Area’s champions,” Whitten said. Belgreen had lost its Area to Phillips Oct. 17 after defeating Hackleburg. “We were shaky the first set and lost that set, but the next three sets, we played hard and won, advancing to the Sweet 16 – a new first for Belgreen High School’s volleyball program. The girls were super excited. One said, leaving the court, ‘This is the best feeling ever!'”
Belgreen finished their regular season 14-12 and finished second in the Area.
Daniel to join Lady Statesmen
When Russellville High School’s Kalli Beth Daniel was trying to decide where to continue her softball career, she felt at home when she discovered Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.
She was drawn to the coaching staff right away.
“They are close, like a family, and their coach cares – she has a relationship with each and every one of her players,” Daniel said. And while she was sold on the coaching staff and program, she was also attracted to the campus. “It was small but big at the same time,” she said. “I liked the community, and the people are so friendly.”
Daniel signed to play softball at Delta State during a signing ceremony last week in the Russellville High School field house. She plans to major in occupational therapy.
Greenhill takes pitching game to next level at Auburn University
“It’s just amazing. I’m truly blessed with the opportunity God has given me.”
That opportunity? For Cody Greenhill to play next-level baseball at Auburn University.
Greenhill committed to Auburn last October after the AU coaching staff saw him pitch at a tournament in Florida. “He’s had good instruction and is a kid we think can really help us right away,” said assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Brad Bohannon.
In a signing day ceremony last week, Greenhill made that October commitment official. Joining him at Auburn will be teammate Judd Ward, who also signed last week.
“I think Cody is right down Butch’s alley,” Coach Chris Heaps commented. “Butch is a pitching guru, and Cody is a very talented pitcher.”
Wray signs with South Alabama
From RHS Coach Chris Heaps’ perspective, if Chad Wray continues the caliber of work and dedication he has shown at Russellville, he’ll “be a big time contributor” to the University South Alabama’s program, with which Wray signed last week.
“Chad was a big part of our formula last year and is going to be one of the most crucial parts of our formula this year,” Heaps said. “We’re so proud to have been blessed, just for a while, to have this talent.” Heaps said while Wray might not have been given many moments to shine at Russellville to this point, he will be a key part of the school’s chance at another trip to Montgomery in the coming season.
Wray, who plans to major in civil engineering or physical therapy and would love to progress to the Major Leagues, said South Alabama just felt like the right fit for him. “The atmosphere down there is great. It’s always warm, so that’s a plus,” Wray said. “It’s a baseball school.” He was also impressed by the school’s commitment to helping their athletes stay on track academically.
Madden joins UNA Lions
When Red Bay High School Coach Donnie Roberts thinks of Darby Madden, he thinks of a girl with exceptional basketball skills and an exceptional commitment to working hard.
“There is nobody who is going to out-work Darby Madden,” Roberts said. “She knows what’s ahead, and she’s going to be prepared for it. Her work ethic is unbelievable.”
With her dedication to the game, Madden signed Monday to play college basketball at the University of North Alabama.
RBHS’ Anna Seahorn signs for college golf
It was a special day for Red Bay’s Anna Seahorn – the day she signed to take her golf game to the next level.
Seahorn signed last week to play college golf at Wallace State, during a ceremony surrounded by friends and family in the Red Bay High School library. Her new coach, Dan York, was also in attendance.
“We are extremely happy and proud that Anna has chosen to come to school at Wallace,” York said. “She is an outstanding young lady … With her skills and being able to practice and play every day with other outstanding young ladies, we expect great things in the future.”
RBHS Coach Johnny Cleveland said it’s the first time ever, to his knowledge, for Red Bay to have a girl sign for golf.
Ward signs with Auburn University
It was earlier this year at a baseball camp that Russellville’s High School’s Judd Ward committed to playing at the next level at Auburn University. It was last week when the early signing period began that he made it official.
“Judd is the type of player I think Butch is looking for as a catalyst for his offense and the type of baseball he wants to play,” said Coach Chris Heaps. He called Ward “one of the most talented players and one of the most dedicated players I have ever had the pleasure of coaching.”
Allie Kennedy signs with Southern Miss
When a high school athlete contemplates that decision of where to pursue college ball opportunities, building connection with the prospective head coach is crucial. For Red Bay High School’s Allie Kennedy, her relationship with Southern Miss Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis began when Kennedy was moved up to varsity in seventh grade during a Christmas tourney. That was the first time Lee-McNelis saw Kennedy play. Last week, the Lady Tiger signed to continue her athletic career at Southern Miss.
For RBHS Head Coach Donnie Roberts, Kennedy is his first ever Division 1 signee. He praised her as a “very talented player.”
“Allie has always had a tremendous work ethic,” Roberts said. “She never lets me down in practice. I’ve never had to discipline her for lack of hustle or effort. She’s always given it her very best.” He particularly praised her ball-handling skills. “She’s got the sweetest jump shot I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
Big day for Burgett
In spring 2016, Bevill State Community College announced the return of its athletic programs, following a five-year hiatus after the closure of all programs in 2011. With a scholarship signing at Red Bay High School Monday, a local student-athlete will be part of the rebuilding at Bevill.
Landen Burgett impressed the coaching staff during a workout at Bevill State, and he will continue his baseball career there.
“He’s a left-handed pitcher, and we’re looking for quality left-handed arms,” explained Head Coach Joey May. “We’re rebuilding, so we’re recruiting right now, and we’ve put together a really good recruitment class so far. Landen is one of those guys we have high hopes for, and we think he’s going to be great.
“We’re really excited to have him.”