By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
The bi-district, area and regional quarterfinal champion Belton Lady Tigers softball team celebrated its successful 2015 season with an end-of-season banquet at Harris Community Center last Wednesday evening.
Belton head coach Matt Blackburn welcomed the attendees and introduced Kirby Barbosa from the Central Texas Youth Softball Association. Barbosa awarded a $1,000 academic scholarship to Skylar Stewart. Stewart will be attending Texas State to study child development.
The Lady Tiger members of All-District 12-6A Team were given their awards. The team included District 12-6A Co-Most Valuable Player Sidney Holman, Newcomer of the Year Bethany Edwards, Kaitlyn Jones (First Team, infield), Brittany Bass (First Team, infield), Bekah Alcozer (First Team, outfielder), Destynie Moore (First Team, outfielder) and Shelby Hitt (First Team, utility).
Blackburn then spoke about the season (21-7, District 12-6A runner-up, bi-district, area and regional quarterfinal sweeps, strong showing against state semifinalist The Woodlands) and senior class of Alcozer, Bass, Hitt and Stewart. The group has 16 years of varsity experience and nearly 100 games of career playoff games combined.
The Tiger Spirit went to Bass. The senior third baseman, who will be attending Texas A&M University to study to be a thoracic surgeon, embodied the fighting spirit of the Lady Tigers Softball squad.
The Offensive Player of the Year went to Jones. The junior second baseman led the Lady Tigers in batting average (.487), runs (36), hits (38), stolen bases (20), sacrifices (7), on-base percentage (.574) and hitting with runners in scoring position (.667, 22-of-33).
The Defensive Player of the Year went to Meredith Lusby. Her game one performance against The Woodlands with seven putouts, including several athletic plays, embodied the defensive philosophy of the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Tigers’ Most Valuable Player Award went to Holman. A 20-game winner again in 2015, Holman reset the single-season strikeout record (241 in 158 innings, breaking her 2014 record of 218 in 178 innings), split her earned run average in half (2.66 in 2014, reduced to 1.33 in 2015), allowing just 30 earned runs and walking 61 in 28 games. Her four no-hit games, three of those perfect games thrown in a three-week span, will be a hard feat to duplicate.
The Belton Bang Crew, the fun-loving, boisterous student body cheer team, was recognized by the attendees with a standing ovation. They traveled to several of the team’s games and were present for all of the team’s playoff series, cheering on their classmates.
Belton has a great future ahead, with the returners to the team and the up-and-coming players from junior varsity and the incoming freshman class.