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SF duo together on all-state team

SF duo together on all-state team
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Inseparable as batterymates, Haley McKinney and Paxton Sisson are also together on the all-state softball team.
The South Fulton pitcher/catcher duo, who helped the Devilettes to a school-record 34 victories and third-place finish in the state this past spring, have been named to the Class 1A All-State team by members of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.
The individual honors capped a season that saw SF make the state tournament for the sixth time and matched the program’s best-ever finish while being the last public-school entry left in the eight-team field.
And head coach Curt Lee boasted that both McKinney and Sisson were surely worthy of the accolades.
“Those are two really good kids, and they represent both our program and our town very well as student-athletes and young ladies,” he said.
Both McKinney — a sophomore hurler — and Sisson, a junior backstop, are 4.0 students.
They also were impressive on the diamond at what is generally considered the two most critical spots on the field.
McKinney won 22 games and had an earned run average of less than 1.50. With pinpoint control, she averaged nearly a strikeout per-inning (161) while giving up just 118 hits all season.
Two of McKinney’s losses came in the state tournament — to Ellen Renfroe of ultimate champion Trinity Christian Academy, and Grace Baptist Academy’s Lacye Walker. Both Renfroe and Walker were named to the all-state team as well.
McKinney, who won 20 games as a freshman, did best the other all-state pitching selection, Shelby Stinnett of Forrest.
Sisson, a rock behind the plate while receiving McKinney’s efforts, was arguably the Devilettes best all-around player and unofficial team captain.
She hit a team-best .400 and was the only South Fulton player to collect a hit in all four of the team’s state tournament games against top-of-the-line pitching. She was second on the team in total hits and also drew the second highest number of walks while anchoring the middle of the batting order.
Equally important, she was a weapon behind the plate — throwing out 80 percent of would-be base stealers while negating the opposition’s running game — and made just three errors all season.
“Paxton’s just a tremendous worker, probably the hardest-working player I’ve ever had,” said Lee, who has 280 victories and an impressive .771 winning percentage while guiding the Devilettes to the state tournament in six of his 12 seasons. “Both on and off the field, she’s one of a very few kids to have both the heart and desire to succeed in anything and everything she does. And she has a will to please above all the other players I’ve ever had.
“Haley is just a young lady who we gave the ball to in the substate as an eighth-grader two years ago, and she was unflappable. She’s improved so much since then, and she’s worked extremely hard — especially in the offseason — to make herself a more complete and better pitcher. She’s matured every year, and she really understands and loves the game.”
TCA, which won its fourth state title in five years and eliminated South Fulton for the third consecutive seasons, put three players on the glitter unit, including the University of Tennessee-bound Renfroe.
A complete listing of the TSWA All-State teams can be found on page 9.
Published in The Messenger 7.19.10

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