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Lady Longhorns land four on all-state team

Marengo Academy landed four girls on the Alabama Sports Writers Association AISA all-state softball team Saturday, unofficially capping a season in which it won 33 games and its first state championship.

Freshman shortstop Katie Tucker took home the most accolades, earning first team honors while also being named Hitter of the Year for the AISA, an almost unthinkable honor for a ninth grader.

“That kid will be as good as she wants to be,” Marengo Academy head coach Todd Mathis said. “She does stuff you can’t teach with just her athletic ability. I think her legitimate slugging percentage was over 1.000.”

Tucker hit leadoff for the Lady Longhorns despite being the biggest power threat in the lineup. In her first year starting at the varsity level, she proved an absolute nightmare for opponents, hitting a robust .607 with a .676 on-base percentage for the Lady Longhorns. Tucker had 32 RBIs, nine doubles, 11 triples and four home runs over the course of the season, striking out five times over 117 at-bats. She also stole 24 bases and scored 61 runs.

“There is no doubt about it, you could take that kid and plug her in at any school in the state of Alabama and she would start,” Mathis said. “She is the toughest out in the AISA.”

Despite her accomplishments, which now includes the highest offensive honor in the AISA, Tucker remains grounded. Mathis said that is key to her success.

“She doesn’t act any different than anybody else,” Tucker said. “This just shows how good she is. I’m glad (the sports writers) didn’t let the fact that she is a ninth grader keep them from voting her where she is.”

Senior Kaliegh Robison, the Lady Longhorns’ three-hole hitter, earned first-team distinction at second base after a season in which she hit .459 with 37 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.

“I’m extremely happy for her,” Mathis said of Robison. “She has been a rock in the middle (infield) for us for years. The one things I could always count her with her is she seemed to elevate when it mattered. It is extremely gratifying for me to see her get that recognition.”

Robison joins teammate Jessica Brock on the AISA first team. Brock, who primarily pitched for the Lady Longhorns while also playing some outfield, earned first team honors at the utility spot. A junior, Brock hit .457 on the year with a .541 on-base percentage from the cleanup spot. In 92 at-bats, she struck out only once. Brock roped 12 doubles and scored 26 runs while knocking in 31 runs on the season. But her biggest contributions came in the pitcher’s circle, where she compiled a 25-3 record over 159 innings of work. Brock fanned 183 batters and tossed 13 shutouts while putting together a 1.19 ERA.

“She batted in the four-hole for me all year. She only had one strikeout. I knew what she could do with the bat,” Mathis said. “Pitching wise, she had a little bit to work through. By the time we went (to Montgomery for the state tournament), she had everything clicking.”

The Lady Longhorns’ final honoree came in the form of Destiny Huckabee, a sophomore who shifted to third base, filling the void left by her sister, Abbey, who graduated in 2009. The younger of the two Huckabee sisters offered a much different look than her power-hitting sister, instead relying on her speed and slap hitting style to find success.

“She grew up immensely in just that year,” Mathis said of Destiny. “Her mechanics we had to work with her a little bit. But she got on a roll (in the state tournament). To hit .490 as a slap hitter, she is a very, very tough out.”

Huckabee also stroked 11 doubles and stole 15 bases in a year in which she scored 45 runs and knocked in 26. Huckabee earned ASWA honorable mention honors for her efforts.