THE BEST IN THE STATE: Lady Eagles’ Gibson named Coach of the Year

Published 11:00 pm Friday, June 9, 2017

The Pleasant Home Lady Eagles softball team had a tremendous season this year, and the accolades continue to roll in with PHS head coach Jessica Gibson being named the Class 1A Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

“It’s a big honor and I’m speechless,” Gibson said. “To be in the same category as Cindy Hawthorne (Brantley’s softball coach) is amazing. She is someone that I think is just an amazing person and to be considered in the category is unreal for me. I’m honestly speechless. This wasn’t something I expected, but I’m very honored. ”

Gibson said that she couldn’t take much of the credit for the honor.

“This really wasn’t something that I did,” Gibson said. “There is only so much I can do. Those girls are the ones out there competing every day. The heart of our kids is what made this happen. I can only do so much. At some point, it’s up to the girls to have that drive to improve and succeed. A lot of this goes back to our kids. I can’t ask for more than what they gave me. This was truly a very special team.”

The seniors on the team really helped guide the younger girls in the right direction, she said.

“We only had three seniors this year,” Gibson said. “They were our anchors. Most of the other girls were underclassmen who hadn’t played on stage as big as regionals or state. The seniors showed them what to expect and the girls played their hearts out.”

The way the team played this season impressed her, Gibson said.

“These girls played for each other,” Gibson said. “We hit a rough patch in April when we were playing some bigger schools and we lost a few games, but after that two-week stretch, we responded and really took off after the Andalusia tournament.”

The Lady Eagles rolled throw the regionals and then got off to a hot start at the state tournament.

Pleasant Home finished third in the state and was the only team to beat eventually Class 1A state champions Sumiton Christian in the state tournament.

Pleasant Home also had three girls selected for the All-State roster.

Eighth grader Ava Bailey earned a spot as the second-team pitcher.

She was a workhorse on the mound for the Lady Eagles this season. Bailey struck out 153 batters in 137 innings pitched with an ERA of 2.96 in her first year playing softball.

Eighth grader Amy Kate Bulger earned a spot as the second-team third baseman.

Bulger led the Lady Eagles with 41 RBIs and .433 batting average. Bulger also hit five home runs.

Senior Abby Walker earned a spot as an honorable mention utility player.

Walker finished the year with a .416 batting average with 26 RBIs and 48 runs scored.

“I’m proud of all these girls,” Gibson said. “They were amazing this year and we just had a unique team. They played for each other every game and they always cheered each other on.”