Excelling at the plate and at two of the most difficult positions in the field, Carroll County junior Laken Crockett has been named Region 4D Softball Player of the Year.
One of the region’s top hitters at the plate, Crockett separated herself from players in 4D with similar numbers because of her nearly flawless season at the hot corners. Playing first base when Emily Cook pitched and third base when Katie McKenzie was on the mound for the Cavaliers, Crockett made just one error in 168 chances for an astounding .994 fielding percentage.
“She batted .500 for us but she only made one error all year and I think that helped her get some of the votes,” Carroll County softball coach Rick Nester said of Crockett’s honor. “Some of the other girls did not have the same defensive numbers between first and third bases. With her on both of the hot corners and with multiple opportunities to make plays and only have one error, I think that speaks highly about her. Her offensive stats were right there with any of the girls nominated as a first-team player. Put those two things together and the other coaches saw that and voted for her as player of the year.”
Crockett was a first-team selection to the All-Three Rivers District squad as a third baseman. In region voting, however, she was selected second-team as a third baseman, but first-team as a utility player since she switched positions based on who was pitching for the Cavaliers.
She also put up big numbers at the plate, where she led the team in runs scored (26) and tied for the team lead in doubles (10). Crockett finished second for Carroll in hits (33), RBIs (18), batting average (.493), on-base percentage (.630) and slugging percentage (.687). She also hit one home run and walked 13 times while only striking out three times. But her most impressive offensive statistic was batting average with runners in scoring position, where she hit .579 – more than .100 points higher than anybody else in the Cavaliers’ lineup.
“That is an unreal batting average with runners in scoring position,” Nester said. “She and (teammate) Emily Cook were close in all offensive categories except that one. She only struck out three times all year, which is also pretty impressive. She hit .128 as a freshman and .355 last year, so she has continued to raise her batting average each year by a high percentage. In the field, there were multiple games were we had to make a pitching change, so Laken would have to change positions during the game. She was able to do that on multiple occasions and it didn’t affect her play at all.”
Emily Cook also finished the season with impressive stats all the way around. The Ferrum College-bound senior earned first-team All-Three Rivers District honors as both a first baseman and as a pitcher. She was chosen to the All-Region 4D second team at both positions also.
“I feel these honors reflect the successful season the girls had,” said Nester. “Emily’s regional and district honors were well deserved and competition was tough with 12 teams represented in the region. Emily and Laken both led the team throughout the entire season. They are both very deserving of the honors they received.”
At the plate, Cook led the team in several categories, including hits (36), home runs (4), RBIs (21), batting average (.537), on-base percentage (.654) and slugging percentage (.866). She also was third on the team in runs scored with 17.
Taking over before the season as Carroll County’s number-one pitcher, Cook took control on the mound, finishing the season with a 12-3 record with a 2.74 ERA. She struck out 63 while walking 28 in 92 innings of work. She also was nearly perfect in the field, making just 1 error in 79 chances for a .988 fielding percentage.
Junior outfielder Taylor Spangler earned second-team honors in All-Region 4D voting. In the field, she did not make an error in 39 opportunities. She provided a good blend of power and average at the plate, hitting .319 with two home runs and 16 RBIs. She was third on team in hits (22) and doubles (5). She also had one triple and scored 13 runs in 2018.
Senior Alexis Meredith had another stellar season at shortstop for Carroll and she was rewarded with a second-team all-district selection in addition to an honorable mention nod on the all-region club. Meredith made just seven errors in 89 chances at shortstop, where she has held down the position with command the past three seasons. At the plate, she was second on the team in runs scored with 23. She was also fourth on the team in both hits (21) and doubles (4). As Carroll’s leadoff hitter, she batted .273 and drove in eight runs.
Katie McKenzie continued her fine play as a third baseman in 2018 to go along with newly added pitching duties. She received honorable mention accolades at both positions in the Three Rivers District. Once again, McKenzie proved to be one of the Cavaliers’ top hitters, finishing second on the team in home runs (3) and third in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.526) and RBIs (16). McKenzie was fourth on the team in runs scored (16) and fifth in hits (19). She also had four doubles in 2018. On the mound, McKenzie compiled a 4-1 record with one save. She struck out 36 batters and walked just 11, finishing the season with a team-best 2.10 ERA.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN