By Tony Adams
In over 100 years of Belton High School athletics, there was one athlete that was named to a high school All-American team: Brad Turner in 1996, named to USA Today All-American Baseball team.
Last Friday, a second athlete was added to the exclusive club: Belton Softball pitcher Sidney Holman.
The recent graduate and current Abilene Christian player was named to MaxPreps.com’s All-American Second-Team.
Other Texas-based high school players to make the team were: La Grange’s Missy Zoch (first team pitcher, who the Lady Tigers faced in the Friends of Round Rock Preseason Tournament in January), North Forney’s Morgan McCallum (infielder, first-team), Humble Atascocita’s Shelby McGlaun (outfielder, first-team, though the Lady Tigers saw plenty of her in the circle during the Class 6A regional semifinals this past spring), Frisco’s Maddie MacGrandle (pitcher, first-team), Mansfield Legacy’s Reagan Wright (catcher, second-team), North Forney’s Marilyn Rizzato (catcher, second-team) and Deer Park’s Payton McBride (utility player, second-team). These players were among the 60 players in MaxPreps.com’s first-team and second-team lists.
“I’m very proud of Sid,” Belton head coach Matt Blackburn said. “She’s being recognized among the top 20 pitchers in the nation.”
Holman, a four-year starter, had astronomical numbers in 2016. Having sliced in half her earned run average in the past two seasons, Holman went 29-4 in 33 outings in 2016 and reset Belton single-season strikeout mark for third consecutive season. She had 354 strikeouts against 44 walks and 75 hits allowed in 197 2/3 innings and wrapped her career with a school record 990 strikeouts for her career. She had a streak of three consecutive perfect games in a 100-hour span and retired 57 hitters in a district stretch. She had seven no-hitters (four perfect games) in 2016 and 12 for her career. Hit .385 with three home runs, 22 RBI, 40 hits, 10 doubles and .439 on-base percentage.
“Her stats were unbelievable this year,” Blackburn said. “It was fun to see her get better with every year she spent in high school. A lot of kids plateau, but don’t works as hard as Sid.”
Adding her Texas Girls’ Coaches Association All-State honors, Super Centex First Team, Killeen Daily Herald All-Area MVP, Texas Sports Writers Association First Team, was on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ inaugural Victory Bowl All-Star Red Team (received the Molly Martinson “Braveheart” award for display of character, perseverance and enthusiasm for Jesus) District 12-6A Most Valuable Player Award to mix, Holman had a dynamite 2016.
“It’s such an honor to have been selected!” Holman said. “I love being able to represent my home town!”
Turner (Baseball 1996) was named to the USA Today All-American Team in 1996 and was the only high school All-American Belton had until Holman joined him last Friday.
Anitra Davis (Basketball 1992-1995) started at Belton her first three years before transferring to Houston Madison and becoming Parade Magazine Third Team All-American and Kodak All-American in 1995. She was the only athlete in Belton history to be all-state four years running (three with Belton, one with Madison). Her ties to Belton had made her the only female athlete that played for the Lady Tigers to be named as a high school All-American. Holman pitched all four years at Belton.
Daliann James (Powerlifting 2003-2006) was also a standout, having been the only Belton athlete with four state championships. As prolific and powerful as James was, powerlifting did not have an All-American team.
To fully understand the magnitude of this honor, you have to go back to her freshman year of 2013. She was highly touted and one of the best youth pitchers in the area, Holman went 17-8 with a 2.59 ERA, allowing 50 earned runs in 135 innings, striking out 177 and walking 74. Her battles against Temple standout Lexi Smith and Midway’s Callie Guffey were epic showdowns in 2013. Holman and Smith were the high watermarks of the area’s pitching prowess.
With Guffey leaving Midway for Waco Reicher (being replaced in the circle by Morgan Ling and Chandlar Coskrey over the final three years for the Pantherettes), Holman and Smith locked up for another set of showdowns in 2014, though both games were offensive affairs. Holman went on to finish 20-12 with a 2.66 ERA, allowing 68 runs in 179 innings, striking out 218 while walking 87. The 218 strikeouts set a new standard for Belton pitching at the distance of 43 feet. Becoming allies in the circle and off the field after their playing days, Smith went on to have an outstanding career at Temple College, helping pitch them to the National Junior College World Series in 2015. She will pitch for Texas A&M next season.
In 2015, Holman had all-state caliber numbers again. She was 21-7, throwing all but 10 pitches in the circle for the year. She allowed 30 runs in 158 innings, striking out a school-record 241 batters and allowing 61 walks. Many people believe that the loss of the games during the rough spring of 2015 season, five games of which were that would have been played in the Centex Hit-and-Run Tournament in Belton, may have cost Holman a shot 300 strikeouts during her junior campaign and 1,000 career strikeouts. It was a feat that she chased along with picking up much needed wins in the circle for the team in 2016.
Toughness? Holman had that covered. She was one of the most physically fit female athletes in the entire Belton High School athletic program. Even when she wasn’t feeling her best, she turned up her intensity in the circle. It was transparency at its best.
“If everyone realized how hard Sid works to perfect what she does, this award wouldn’t be a surprise,” Blackburn said.
“Sidney is one of those rare athletes that has both great talent and work ethic,” Belton athletic director Bob Shipley said. “Some kids have talent and some have good work ethic. But when you have one with both, you’ve got something really special. Having said that, the most important thing that I love about her is the type of person that she is.”
Countless days before and nights after practice, Holman could be seen with her father, Brad, working on her mechanics. Her mother, Tiffany, helped with getting her to countless practices, games and tournaments. She has worked with pitching coaches Mandy Staton and Dennis Moe to help groom her for the grind of high school pitching and the rigors of select ball. She also worked on her hitting throughout school. In the summer months, Holman played with the Buzz Softball organization and later, with the Texas Bombers.
“Sid is the most determined athlete I have ever had the pleasure of coaching,” Staton said. “Her work ethic is like no other. She is my ‘just one more’ girl who always wants to do better. It’s so hard to describe Sid in one or two sentences. She is the sole reason I have continued to do lessons all these years. She has set the bar so high for so many young girls in this area and I could not be any more proud of her! She is like my own and I can’t wait to watch her succeed at the next level!”
Don’t forget about the catchers that Holman had in high school. Shelby Hitt, Kacey Schescke, Bethany Edwards, soon-to-be-ACU teammate Alyson Bishoff and Sydney Andrews. All of them were instrumental in her four-year success, masterfully catching Holman’s outings.
Hitt, a lifelong friend and teammate for over 10 years, started off as a pitcher in her early days of softball. Her catcher? Sidney Holman.
“Catching Sidney was a huge adrenaline rush it was a feeling like no other,” Hitt said. “Over those 10 years, I saw every side of her. I saw her grow as a person and as a pitcher. I’m very blessed that I had the opportunity to be the catcher to an All-American Pitcher. She’s worked so hard for this and she deserves every bit of it. She is never satisfied with herself and that’s what it takes to be the best you can never be satisfied and I think that is also why she has been so successful in this game. She always knew what to say to me when I was in a slump and I always knew what to say to her. I think we worked so well together because of our chemistry. 10 years and hundreds of games of pitching and catching together says a lot in itself. We have created a bond like no other through that and it was one of the best times of my life catching Sidney. The game just isn’t the same when I’m catching another pitcher other than Sidney. It feels like something is missing. She made the game great and memorable for me and the memories we created over the years together I will cherish forever.”
Edwards was behind the plate for most of the success in 2015 and caught all of the no-hitters and perfect games in 2016.
“It was really fun just seeing her improve even more the past two years and it was great being able to be on the other side of the plate,” Edwards said of her fellow TSWA Class 6A first-team All-State battery mate. “Her pitches move a ton so it’s interesting and fun to work around them. It was an awesome two years catching her! She, for sure, made me a better player. I’m not surprised at all that she made the All-American team just because of how hard she’s work and the success she’s gotten. She’s definitely deserved it!”
In game one of the 2016 Class 6A regional quarterfinal playoffs, Belton won 10-0, eventually sweeping the series with Rowlett. Holman struck out 14 in six innings on Wednesday, recovering from a virus she got over the previous weekend. He recovered in game two to strike out eight and was 3-of-4 with an RBI triple.
She went on to pitch all 25 innings during a 26-hour stretch of the regional semifinal series against Humble Atascocita in Mumford. She gave up her first home run in 182 innings in the first game of the series and two in the third game. The homers were the first home runs she had allowed in 50 games. Let that statistic set in for a moment: 50 games.
Holman did not allow an earned run this season from February 27 to May 20, an 83-day span. She and the Lady Tigers earned the program’s first 30-win softball season in school history. The records that Holman set this season alone: 29 wins, 27 consecutive wins, 0.54 ERA, 354 strikeouts.
“My teammates were amazing this season,” Holman said, following the Atascocita series. “They were there and supported me all year long. I am especially proud of the 29-game winning streak. That doesn’t happen very often. We just kept pushing each to the keep the streak going.”
Shipley said it best when commenting on Holman’s character.
“The legacy of character that she’s leaving behind is just as important as the legacy of being honored as one of the best players in the country,” Shipley said.