By JUSTIN RAINS
It’s no secret that the Slocum girls’ basketball team is really, really good.
Outside of the players on that team, no one in Slocum might no that fact better than Kelsie Selman.
The senior — affectionately known around Anderson County as Doodle — is one of only a handful of softball players at Slocum that doesn’t also play basketball.
Because of that, Selman — who assumed the role of team ace in 2013 — had to lead a team missing seven starters for the first half of the season as the Lady Mustang basketball team made its playoff run.
Even through that tough part of the season, Selman kept Slocum afloat, and when the entire team returned — right around the start of district play — the Lady Mustangs really hit their stride.
After years of trailing rival Grapeland in district play, the Lady Mustangs overtook the Sandiettes in 2013, including a dramatic 1-0 victory in Grapeland in the teams’ first meeting.
Selman called overtaking the Sandiettes the “best accomplishment of my high school career.”
“I’ve always tried to push the team to beat them, and we’d always fall short,” she said. “This year we made it a point to beat them and I just thought it was great that we could be district champs my senior year.”
After she got her full compliment of teammates, Selman was lights out. She had an ERA of 1.32 from district play through the playoffs, and struck out 141 batters.
For her play in 2013, Selman has been named the 2013 Dogwood Circle softball Player of the Year.
“I was just trying to do good and (knew) the players would improve and get the starting positions next year,” Selman said of playing without those starters early on. “I would always encourage them to try their best.”
She added that she thought knowing how successful they could be without seven starters helped the team’s confidence all season long.
“We were doing good without them, but I always had it set in my mind how good we would be once they got out there,” she said.
Her coach added that Selman was the glue that held the team together for that first part of the year and, if anyone would know, it was David Ives.
Along with his head softball coach duties, Ives was also an assistant basketball coach, going back-and-forth from practice to practice.
“She kept us in a lot of games we shouldn’t have been in,” he said of Selman. “Everything else was up in the air.”
Shelby Bruner, Sr., Grapeland
Bruner was great all season for the Sandiettes, but did her best work when the lights got the brightest.
She hit all six of her home runs in 2013 during the postseason, helping Grapeland back to the regional final before the Sandiettes finally fell to Beckville.
On the year as a whole, Bruner batted an area-best .590 and had a total of 62 hits.
She also drove in 39 runs, while averaging almost an entire base per at-bat.
Courtney Lindsey, Jr., Elkhart
2013 will probably be remembered as a disappointing year for the Lady Elks, with Elkhart missing the playoffs.
But it will also be remembered as the year that Courtney Lindsey burst onto the scene for good in the Lady Elks’ outfield.
Lindsey, the District 19-2A Defensive Player of the Year, was more than solid in center, fielding at better than 96 percent with three outfield assists.
She was also strong at the plate, batting .463 and slugging better than .580 on the year. She was a Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Sportswriters Association all-state pick.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Baylee Lumbreraz, Soph., Grapeland
A year ago as a freshman, Baylee Lumbreraz got limited innings behind Dogwood Circle Player of the Year Jalla Johnson.
When given her chance to shine in 2013, the Grapeland sophomore took it.
Lumbreraz was stellar for the Sandiettes all season en route to a regional finals berth. She struck out 178 in only 160 innings pitched, and seems poised to keep the Grapeland program strong into the future.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Kimberly Hughes, Fr., Cayuga
Cayuga would, it appears, seem to have a bonafide ace on campus these days.
Only a freshman, Kimberly Hughes was huge for the Ladycats as they captured the team’s first district title under coach Magen Humphreys.
Hughes struck out an area-best 199 in only 142 innings, averaging almost a strikeout-and-a-half per inning on the year.
She held opponents to less than three runs per game as well en route to her 16 wins.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jim Dillard, Grapeland
It can be hard enough for a coach to acclimate himself to new team right off the bat, even harder when taking over a squad with big expectations.
Jim Dillard did just that in 2013 in Grapeland, and even more.
Despite consistently missing players with other athletic commitments throughout the year, Dillard — the program’s third coach in four years — was able to keep the team steady.
He led Grapeland back to the regional final, where they eventually fell to rival Beckville, 2-0.
Players picked for the Dogwood Circle team were nominated by their respective coaches. Players who were not nominated were not eligible for selection.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org