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POTW: Shelby Speegle

In a week that produced a number of strong Player of the Week candidates, it is hard to argue with the selection of Shelby Speegle. The Demopolis High senior southpaw pitched five innings Monday against defending 4A state champion Jackson. He allowed only four hits and issued one walk while surrendering one unearned run and striking out two. Incidentally, he also picked up the win. While stellar, the numbers are far from the peak of his outings. He has dazzled with regularity in his career, often recording double-digit strikeout numbers and limiting offenses to paltry run and hit totals. However, Monday’s performance was especially remarkable for one reason. It wasn’t supposed to happen. Speegle wasn’t supposed to be pitching. He was supposed to be in the dugout. He was supposed to be rehabbing the ACL he tore Nov. 21 against Carver in the second half of the last football game of his high school career. The original prognosis was that he could miss all of his senior baseball season. Then he was told that, with the right amount of work, he could be back by April. But none of that was good enough for Speegle. His competitive nature wouldn’t allow him to sit in the dugout and watch. So he set a goal for himself. He decided that he would be on the mound against Jackson on opening day. It was a decision he reached in December. It was a goal those around him thought ludicrous. Then Monday came. And, true to his word, Speegle was on the mound. And, true to his form, he was effective as helped the 2009 Tigers pick up their first win of the season a full six games earlier than their 2008 predecessors. His intensity, drive, determination and unwillingness to settle have fueled his success on the mound. But, this offseason, those same traits helped him defy the odds as he returned to it.