By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
We had to hear it.
In describing Emily Leib, Gatesville softball coach Michelle Edwards said her start pitcher has a great sense of humor and is always ready with her "joke of the day."
So during a photo shoot Wednesday in honor of Leib being chosen the Killeen Daily Herald's Softball Player of the Year, she was questioned of her unorthodox talent.
"Yea - you want to hear it?" she said without hesitation.
"Why did one fifth go to the doctor?"
(Long pause) Why?
"Because he was too tense," Leib said, using a play on fractions.
But despite the funny - or unfunny, depending on who you are - joke, Edwards also talked about how important Leib and her right arm have been to the Hornets' success.
"She's going to be hard to replace," Edwards said of the Temple College signee. "She's so poised on the mound, she's athletic and she makes things happen. She puts the ball where she wants it, she has control of a game and offensively, she's a monster at the plate too."
Coming off a trip to the Class 3A semifinals, Gatesville started the year without Leib, who was playoff bound with the basketball team. The day after the basketball was eliminated, Leib pitched the Hornets to a pair of wins.
Leib was as dominant as the year before when she earned all-state honors. She finished with a 25-9 record and 322 strikeouts, breaking her own record from the year before. Leib leaves Gatesville as the program's all-time strikeout leader as well, finishing with 837.
Newcomer of the Year
Shelby Watson, Gatesville
It's hard to think of a senior as a newcomer, but Shelby Watson never played varsity softball before this season. She played on the junior varsity as a freshman before skipping the next two seasons to focus on volleyball. The move worked - Watson will play volleyball at Hill College in the fall - and with her future plans set, she rejoined the softball team.
Watson hit .347 as Gatesville starting shortstop, tying for the team lead with eight doubles, finishing second with 28 RBIs and tying for third with 23 runs scored.
Coach of the Year Matt Blackburn, Belton
The year didn't start well for the Lady Tigers, who lost slugger Amber Peters (six home runs last year) to injury and all but one game during a nine-game stretch that included an 0-2 start to District 12-5A play.
But when Belton finally hit its stride, the Lady Tigers rolled. Relying on the pitching of Allison Boston and Jenna Roach, Belton reeled off 45 innings without giving up a run (five straight shutouts) and won 10 of its final 12 games to claim the district's third seed.
Catcher: Ashley Shannon, Shoemaker - Slugged an impressive .767 in district play, was second in the area in home runs
First Base: Jenna Roach, Belton - Hit .302 but also contributed on the pitcher's mound, going 7-4
Second Base: Marisa Bogart, Lampasas - Hit .473 with three home runs, 23 runs and 25 RBIs
Third Base: Lauren Ramsey, Belton - Hit .417 and scored 12 runs in 14 district games
Shortstop: Shabanese Brown, Copperas Cove - Led the area with a .616 batting average, 11 home runs, 48 RBI and 24 stolen bases
Left Field: Kat Strickland, Lampasas - Hit .500 with 27 runs scored and 27 RBI and stole 10 bases
Center Field: Tealey Farquhar, Lampasas - Hit .523 and led the area in hits (57) and runs (39)
Right Field: Annie Bridgers, Belton - Won the Big Stick award from her teammates and hit .448 in district play
Designated Player: Hadley Brown, Lampasas - Was second in the area in RBIs with 38, hit .452 with four homers and scored 28 times.
Pitcher: Taylor Holloman, Lampasas - 25-4A's defensive player of the year, went 13-3 and had a 0.46 ERA during the regular season
Catcher: Camryn Bintz, Salado
First Base: Justine Hartwell, Copperas Cove
Second Base: Madi Moore, Belton
Third Base: Pollethe Ramirez, Killeen
Shortstop: Ashlyn Osborne, Harker Heights
Left Field: Mindi Dunnahoo, Salado
Center Field: Cassie Morphet, Gatesville
Right Field: Karyle Stapleton, Shoemaker
Designated Player: Paige Chambers, Gatesville
Pitcher: Allison Boston, Belton