All-State elite

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pleasant Home's Raven Woods and Straughn's Zack Turvin were selected to the ASWA's Class 1A and 4A softball and baseball All-State teams, respectively. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Zack Turvin, Raven Woods among state’s best

Zack Turvin looks at the batter’s stance in the box, lets his coach know and receives the signal for the next pitch.

Turvin gives the call and gets set for the delivery.

The pitch comes and he gets back to work.

This has been the standard routine for the Straughn graduate for the past four years, and at the culmination of his career with the Tigers, Turvin was selected to the first team of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A All-State baseball team at catcher.

Turvin said he credits hard work and the people that have been a big influence in his life who have helped him be successful this season.

“Definitely working hard since my freshman year all added up to this,” he said. “I had great coaches and family support.”

Turvin finished the season with a .478 batting average and was on base 57 percent of the time. He played 31 games, and was at bat 113 times. Out of the 113 at bats, he struck out five times. He scored 37 runs, had 57 hits and 25 RBIs. He hit nine doubles, two triples and two home runs.

Additionally, he timed his trip to second base just right and compiled eight steals on the season.

For Turvin, SHS junior varsity coach Daniel Rodgers “started it all” as far as being a big influence in his life.

“He was a Godly influence on my life,” he said. “He was a big leader for me for what I wanted to live up to — all of my coaches were actually.”

Not only was Rodgers a central influence, Turvin said his high school coaches, John Fussell and Kenneth Skipper were instrumental in his success as well.

Turvin began playing baseball at 9 years old in the county’s little league program. His first team was the Brewers, and his position — “everywhere.”

“But catcher was my main position,” he said.

Turvin said being a catcher on a baseball team takes a lot of leadership.

“Being a catcher, you’ve got to be a leader,” he said. “You can’t slack off at one pitch. You’ve got to keep your head in the game at all times. It takes a lot of work — a whole lot of work.”

And if it wasn’t for Turvin’s uncle, Donnie Turvin, he wouldn’t be playing baseball to this day.

“He’s the one that got me started playing baseball,” he said. “I would’ve never started if it wasn’t for him.”

Last year, Turvin was a part of Straughn’s berth to play in the Class 4A semifinals.

He said his most memorable moment was making it to the fourth round of the playoffs.

“That was pretty exciting,” he said.

While Straughn didn’t make it to the playoffs this season, Turvin said he battled adversity game in and game out by never quitting.

“Knowing that it’s my senior year and that I’m the kind of person that’s never going to quit — I just love the game of baseball,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Most importantly, Turvin said the bible verse Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” close to his playing at all times.

When asked what was one thing he learned as a senior, Turvin said it was all about making his teammates better people.

“I learned that it’s not all about winning all of the time,” he said. “It’s about coaching your players up, and buildling them to be a better person, not so much a better player.”

Turvin has accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Faulkner University next year.

He is the son of John and Kathy Turvin.

Woods: It took a whole lot of prayer

Pleasant Home rising senior Raven Woods credited a “whole lot of prayer” and team unity as the reasons why she was selected to the first team of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A All-State softball team as an outfielder.

In her junior season, Woods had a .368 batting average, tallying 42 hits, 16 RBIs, four doubles, five triples and one home run. Her on base percentage was 46 percent.

It was while on base she was the most deadly. On the season, Woods stole 30 bases.

Before she reaches the batter’s box, Woods said she’s praying constantly.

“Honestly, I prayed,” she said. “I tend to think about what I need to do. If I don’t, then it’s going to be bad.

“It takes a whole lot of focus,” she said.

When asked if she imagines her hits, Woods said she just wants to get on base.

“I make contact, and when I do, it’s usually a good hit, or I pray it is,” she said. “I hope that my words that I use (in the prayer), are just to let me get on base and score for my team.”

Through the help of prayer on the bases, Woods has scored 36 runs for the Lady Eagles. Pleasant Home finished as the state runner up in Class 1A this season.

Back in fifth grade, Woods said she began to play softball. Her first team was on the Lady Eagles Red team, who was coached by teammate Emily Byrd’s father, Tommy. Emily Byrd was also selected to the All-State team, but at pitcher.

Woods said she learned quickly that she wanted to play in the outfield.

“It was bad. I was awful,” she said about her first time as a softball player. “I tried second (base), but then I realized very quickly that if you are scared of the ball, you don’t need to be that close. Then, I was like, the outfield is for me.”

From the start of this past season, Woods said the team dedicated everything to God and that it grew as a result.

As for next season?

“We’re going to stay unified and play the best of our ability,” Woods said. “Our whole team basically relied on God for everything. We prayed, we sang Jesus songs. We did everything. We kept God first.

“That was our plan from the beginning, and that’s going to be our plan for next year, too,” she said.

Woods is the daughter of Kennedy and Wanda Woods of Andalusia.