Carroll’s Nesters sweep state softball awards

Carroll County head coach Rick Nester gives instruction to his team during the regular season. Nester has been named the VHSL 4-A State Coach of the Year.

Allen Worrell/The Carroll News Carroll County freshman pitcher Sydney Nester delivers a pitch June 12 during a state semifinal game against Deep Creek. Nester has been honored as the VHSL Group 4-A State Player of the Year for her incredible season.

Cheyenne Strickland

Tiffanie Moore

Hannah Dalton

Kyndall Hiatt

Emily Cook

Sydney Childress

Gracie Davidson

It’s been a historic season for Carroll County’s softball team. The postseason is continuing in the same fashion as the Cavaliers swept the top state honors this weekend in All-VHSL Group 4-A All-State voting.

Carroll County freshman Sydney Nester and head coach Rick Nester were both voted Saturday as the State Player of the Year and State Coach of the Year on the All-VHSL Group 4-A team. Additionally, Sydney Nester was named First-Team All-State Pitcher, while senior teammate Cheyenne Strickland was selected first-team all-state as a DP/Flex player and senior outfielder Tiffanie Moore earned second-team all-state honors.

Carroll County put the finishing touches on a dream season June 13 with a 1-0 win over Woodgrove in the 4-A State Championship game, the first team championship in the history of the 46-year-old Carroll County High School. With the win, the Cavaliers finished 26-1.

Carroll has also been rewarded with eight players on the All-Conference 24 Team and six players on the All-Region 4-A North squad. The Cavs also picked up a lot of ton of extra hardware as Sydney Nester has also been named Conference and Region Player of the Year, while head coach Rick Nester was also tabbed as Conference 24 Coach of the Year.

Sydney Nester started her career strong, striking out 11 and walking none in her varsity debut, an 8-1 win over eventual 2-A state semifinalist Floyd County. She only got better as the season went on, going a perfect 19-0 on the mound. The powerful right-hander hurled the first perfect game in school history against Blacksburg on May 19. For the season, she compiled a microscopic 0.82 earned run average while striking out 222 batters and only walking 24. She gave up just 60 hits for the year and allowed just 15 earned runs.

Of course, she stepped up the biggest in the brightest moments, throwing post-season shutouts against Bassett, Chancellor and Fluvanna to help the Cavaliers reach the state semifinals for the first time. One day after throwing 107 pitches in a 3-2 state semifinal win over Deep Creek, Nester dominated defending state champion Woodgrove (who placed six players on the all-state team), striking out 13 and walking none in a two-hit shutout.

As good as Nester was on the mound, a lot of people forget how well she did at the plate for the Cavaliers. In fact, the freshman was the team’s second-leading hitter with a batting average of .455. She also was tied for the team lead with two home runs to go along with 15 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

Obviously, Nester was rewarded as First-Team Pitcher for both the Conference 24 and Region 4-A North teams. She had plenty of company though. Seniors Cheyenne Strickland and Tiffanie Moore also earned spots on both the all-conference and all-region first teams, while Strickland made first-team all-state and Moore earned a spot on the all-state second team.

A game-changing shortstop in the infield, Strickland also sported one of Carroll’s strongest bats. She finished third on the team with a .443 batting average, leading the squad in hits (43), runs (40), doubles (17) and RBIs (37). She also had a triple and one home run and tied for the team lead in stolen bases with five. In the field, she only made two errors all season at shortstop.

A speedy centerfielder, Moore was the team’s leadoff hitter and a big playmaker for the Cavs. She batted .388 for the season and finished second on the team with 38 hits and tied Strickland with the team lead with five stolen bases. Moore also was second on the team withi 34 runs and third in doubles with eight. She also drove in 21 runs for the season.

Three other Cavaliers, Kyndall Hiatt, Hannah Dalton and Emily Cook, were rewarded with first-team all-conference and second-team all-region honors. A sophomore catcher, Hiatt was the team’s leading hitter as she batted a whopping .486 for the season. She tied for the team lead with two home runs and was second with 30 RBIs. Hiatt also scored 23 runs and added five doubles and a triple. Only seven base runners tested Hiatt’s arm in 2015 and four of them paid for it as they were caught stealing.

A senior, Dalton was named to the All-Conference 24 First Team as a third baseman and to the All-Region 4-A North Second Team as an infielder. She only made three errors for the entire season at the hot corner. She combined it with a good stick at the plate as she hit .363 and finished third on the team with 25 RBIs. She was one of the team’s most clutch hitters as her 25 RBIs came on 29 hits – almost one per hit.

Cook, meanwhile, was chosen to the first-team all-conference squad as a first baseman and second-team all-region as an infielder. She also had a huge year at the plate, finishing fifth on the team in hitting despite putting up a whopping .436 batting average. She also was fourth on the team in hits (34), RBIs (24) and runs (24). She only made three errors all season at first base.

Senior Sydney Childress earned First-Team All-Conference 24 honors, giving Carroll a whopping seven players on the first team. Childress also earned honorable mention accolades in region voting as she put up big numbers as an outfielder. Childress finished fourth on the team in batting average at .438 as she had 32 hits, 16 RBIs and scored 19 runs. She was third on the team in extra-base hits with eight doubles and one triple.

Gracie Davidson was selected to the All-Conference 24 Second Team as both a pitcher and a second baseman. A number one pitcher for most teams, Davidson went 7-1 on the mound with a 2.63 ERA. She struck out 43 while walking 24 in 45.1 innings of work. To show what a quality No. 2 pitcher Davidson was for Carroll, she limited defending state champion Woodgrove to its season-low of two runs in the 4-A Region North championship game until Nester topped it with a shutout in the state final. The Wolverines were only held to three runs two other times during the year.

As a second baseman, Davidson also had a good year at the plate, batting .373 with 24 RBIs while finishing third on the team with 29 runs scored. She was sixth with 31 hits and made just two errors at second base.

Conference 24

Player of the Year – Sydney Nester, Carroll County

Coach of the Year – Rick Nester, Carroll County

First Team

Pitcher – Sydney Nester

Catcher – Kyndall Hiatt

1B – Emily Cook

SS – Cheyenne Strickland

3B – Hannah Dalton

OF – Tiffanie Moore, Sydney Childress

Second Team

2B – Gracie Davidson

P – Gracie Davidson

HM – Morgan Tompkins, Caitlin Horton, Kayla Robinson

Region 4-A North

Player of the Year – Sydney Nester, Carroll County

First Team

P – Sydney Nester

IF – Cheyenne Strickland

OF – Tiffanie Moore

Second Team

C – Kyndall Hiatt, IF – Emily Cook, Hannah Dalton.

HM – Gracie Davidson, Sydney Childress

VHSL Group 4A

Player of the Year – Sydney Nester, Carroll County

Coach of the Year – Rick Nester, Carroll County

First Team

Pitcher – Sydney Nester, Carroll County; Pitcher – Annaleise Kennedy, Fluvanna; Pitcher – Sydney Gay, Smithfield; Catcher – Hallie Daughtry, Woodgrove; 1B – Adriana Erickson, Woodgrove; 2B – Jac Mounie, Nansemond River; 3B – Jessica Sprouse, Grafton; SS – Alexis Scott, Fluvanna; OF – Christa Hall, Grafton; OF – Allison Brewer, Deep Creek; OF – Alexa Dolby – Woodgrove; OF – Mackenzie Wyatt, Hanover; DP-Flex – Cheyenne Strickland, Carroll County; Utility – Diane McDaniel, Liberty.

Second Team

P – Camryn Dolby – Woodgrove; P – Julia Fritz, Glen Allen; P – Ryn Boelter, Deep Creek; C – Daja Burgee, Deep Creek; 1B – Kaylyn Shepherd, Hanover; 2B – Kaylie Mull, Jefferson Forest; 3B – Taylor Kilgour, Woodgrove; SS – Tara Deck, Grafton; OF – Morgan Lowers, Nansemond River; OF – Tiffani Shaheen, Fluvanna; OF – Tiffanie Moore, Carroll County; OF – Grace Sanderson, Woodgrove; DP-Flex – Meredith Throckmorton, Smithfield; Utility – Mason Basdikis, Powhatan.

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