GLEN ROSE – Without question, the 2016 Lady Tiger senior class will go down as the most decorated in the relatively brief history of the program. There are 57 wins to 51 losses and one tie, along with a claim to 25 of the 36 Glen Rose school records to prove as much.
“It has been a great run with this group of seniors,” Glen Rose Head Coach Kiel Miller said. “Like I said at the athletic banquet, this is the most successful group of girls who have ever come through Glen Rose High School on the softball side of things. A lot of it comes from the fact that they have played a lot of softball before getting to high school, but then they were thrust onto the field as freshman. The fact that five of the seven seniors have started pretty much every ballgame at the varsity level since their freshman year is amazing.
“They went through their growing pains as freshman, but anytime they made a mistake they learned from it and grew into great softball players,” Miller continued. “They had to take a lot on the chin as freshman. […] But as far as this senior group goes, it’s been a blast.”
The senior class – comprised of Destenie Lewis, Madi Gibson, Page Green, Sabrina Watson, Aubrey Starnes, Jaci Bridges, Kensy Massey and Hannah Morales – greatly contributed to the 14-9-1 season in 2013, 14-17 mark in 2014, 18-7 record in 2015 and, obviously, the 11-18 finish in 2016.
Each Lady Tiger played a role. Each Lady Tiger carried her own story. Each Lady Tiger leaves behind a pair of monumental spikes to fill.
An all-time great?
Pick any one of the 17 most popular offensive categories – plate appearances, at bats, hits, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, runs scored, walks, strikeouts, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, stolen bases, extra-base hits, and total bases – and there will assuredly be a 2016 representative in the top-three of the Glen Rose record books. The same can be said for the top-four career defensive categories – total chances, assists, putouts, and errors.
However, one Lady Tiger separated herself from the pack and led the class in 13 of the aforementioned 21 categories.
Feel free to confidently pencil in Destenie Lewis as, statistically, one of the all-time greatest softball players to ever roam the hallways of Glen Rose High School.
The all-everything shortstop quite literally did it all during her 95 career games played.
Did she flash the leather? Absolutely. Lewis fielded 317-batted balls (senior-class high) over her four-year career and recorded 277 outs in the process for an 87.4 fielding percentage. The fielding percentage was, however, fourth behind fellow seniors Green (97.8), Gibson (95.1), Watson (88.9).
But it was at the plate where she left her legacy. Of the 17 offensive categories mentioned, Lewis concluded her career trailing just three senior teammates in four categories.
The shortstop’s 453/.523/.693 slash and 42 stolen bases trailed only the .532/.588/.780 line and 51 stolen bases produced by Green. Her five home runs fell one short of tying the six blasted by Gibson, and the 36 walks drawn by Lewis were second only to Watson’s 56 base-on balls.
“Everyone knows that Destenie is going to put the bat on the ball,” Miller said. “I mean you can almost literally count the number of strikeouts she had over her four-year career on one hand. They know she is going to put the ball in play and that puts a lot of pressure on defenses.”
In total, Lewis is now the proud owner of eight Lady Tiger softball records – the most of any single player.
Oh, how the records did indeed fall
When he began to look back on the careers of this year’s senior class, Miller was confident that his No. 1-4 hitters in the lineup – Watson, Green, Lewis and Gibson – would occupy quite a few school records.
“As a coach, you are sitting back thinking, ‘This is awesome.’ And it was. I had a blast coaching these girls,” Miller said. “Really and truly, when you look on the record board you are going to see Des, Page, Madi and Sabrina everywhere.”
The 130 hits over the career of Lewis shattered Jesse Calkins’ previous school record for hits by 27.
Even though Watson also broke Katie Betsill’s career-mark of 82 runs scored, so did Lewis and by a lot. Lewis crossed the plate a school-record 101 times and also accounted for a school record 91 RBIs during her career, which included her single-season record in 2014 (28) that she broke in 2015 (30).
Green (24) and Watson (16) each had enough doubles for a new career record, but it again it will be Lewis (36) who will occupy the top spot on the record board.
Green and Lewis both broke the high-water mark for triples in a season during the 2015 season with four, but the shortstop’s nine three-baggers firmly stakes her claim to the new career record.
Green (8), Gibson (6) and Watson (4) would have all broken Shelby Tankersley’s previous career-high for triples (3) had Lewis of not.
Watson will, however, securely have her name on the Lady Tiger record board. Her whopping 56 career walks in 325 plate appearances easily broke the previous record set by Betsill and will fit nicely beside her single-season base-on-balls record (20) set in 2014.
The record, according to Miller, is a testament to her patience and leadership atop the Lady Tiger batting order.
“Batting leadoff is scary for a bunch of people, but Sabrina jumped into it last year and wanted to take on the responsibilities,” Miller said. “She had 20 walks last year and 15 more this year, and that is what you are looking for out of a leadoff hitter – either a base hit or a walk. For the last two years she has done that, so when you follow her with Page then that is exactly what you are looking for.
“It was great for her because she saw a lot of pitches and could come back to the dugout and could communicate with the girls what the other pitcher was throwing, which helped us formulate a game plan throughout the game,” Miller continued. “You just can’t ask for much more than what she gave us.”
Watson – an outfielder, pitcher and catcher for the Lady Tigers – will also stake claim to the career games played record after she appeared in 96 of the 109 games during her four-year career. Lewis finished second with 95 games played.
A short list of injuries limited Green, a Vernon College commit, to 61 career games played – almost a full season short of the number of games played by Lewis (95), Gibson (89), Watson (school record 96) and Massey (81). However, she still managed to etch her name in the Glen Rose record books.
Green will depart Glen Rose as the all-time stolen base leader for a season (34 in 2015) and career (51). The speedy backstop was successful on 94.4 percent (51-for-54) of her stolen base attempts during her four-year career. Led by Green’s 34 SB in 2015, a season in which the Lady Tigers set the school record for wins in a season (18), Glen Rose crushed the previous record for team stolen bases set in 2011 (90) with 134.
“When we get up to the top of the lineup and get that first runner on, you know that Page is going to either move the runner over or if they don’t field it cleanly that she is going to get on base,” Miller said. “And everyone in the district knows it, but there just isn’t much they can do about it because of her speed. That is something that we won’t be able to replace.”
Green also set the season record with a .581 batting average in 2015, which lends to little doubt that her career .531 BA/.588 OBP/.780 SLG are all school records, as well.
Former Lady Tiger Cheyenne Harton can rest easy knowing that her home run marks are safe, but just barely. Gibson nearly broke both Harton’s career (8) and single-season (5) mark during her 2016 campaign. After she entered with one home run to her name, Gibson launched five round-trippers to tie the single-season mark set by Harton in 2014 and finished two shy of the career mark.
Of the 26 school records tied or broken by the 2016 senior class there was only one under the pitching category.
Over her 152.1 IP, Hannah Morales allowed 94 earned runs for a career 4.32 ERA to tie the mark set by Jesse Calkins.
How will Miller and assistant coach Carrie Lytle replace the talent set to walk the graduation stage? Check next week’s Reporter for Miller’s breakdown and outlook.
Travis M. Smith