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The Wallace State softball program ushered in a new era on June 3, 2016, as A.J. Daugherty was named the new coach to lead the championship laced program.
Daugherty, 29, inherited the Wallace State coaching job after four seasons at James Clemens High School in Madison, where he built the program from the ground up beginning in 2012 and led the Lady Jets to a top ranking in Class 7A in 2016 and a final four finish at the state tournament. Daugherty, a 2004 Leroy High graduate, coached at Holy Spirit and American Christian Academy prior to his appointment at James Clemens. While in college, Daugherty served as a student assistant at both Shelton State and the University of Alabama.
Daugherty takes over a Wallace State softball fast pitch softball program that is a national champion on the field and in the classroom. Since 2003, Wallace State softball has won two National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Championships (2008, 2013). The Lady Lions were also national runner-up on two other occasions (2009 and 2010) and third in 2012.
Wallace State softball has won 10 Alabama Community College Conference championships over the last 14 seasons, including two in a row and eight of 10. The Lady Lions have won 11th consecutive ACCC North Division titles and made 10 NJCAA Division I national tournament appearances.
Wallace State softball produced another championship-caliber season in 2016. The Lady Lions finished with a 49-22 record, won their 10th Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) title and made their 10th NJCAA Division I national tournament appearance. The team was led by both retired coach Jayne Clem and interim coach Jeff Benson in 2016.Read more...
Wallace State also had many impressive individual achievements in 2016.
Freshman infielder Taylor Beshears was named a NJCAA 3rd-team All-American after setting single-season school record in multiple categories. The freshman from Hewitt-Trussville hit .446 with 13 homers and a school-record 84 RBIs. She also set a school record with 33 doubles and finished with 104 hits, putting her tied for second in school history with Rachel Baucom (2007). Beshears, who also scored a team-high 66 runs and had eight triples, was named the 2016 ACCC North Division Player of the Year and was an All-Tournament selection in Alabaster.
Wallace State catcher Molli Garcia was named to the All-ACCC/Region 22 1st-battery team after hitting .392 with a team-high 16 homers and adding 49 RBIs.
Sophomore first baseman Shelby Brown was an ACCC/Region 22 2nd-team infield selection after finishing with a .321 average, 12 homers and 50 RBIs.
Freshman outfielder Amber Hammonds was named to the ACCC/Region 22 2nd-team outfield and ACCC North 1st-team outfield after hitting .318 with five homers and 38 RBIs in her first season in a Wallace State uniform. Hammonds also racked up a team-high 28 stolen bases.
Wallace State hit .318 as a club collectively and cranked 75 homers. Garcia led the way with 16 bombs, Katie Parr had 14, Beshears had 13 and Brown 12.
In early May, Wallace State went undefeated at the conference tournament for the first time since 2013. Sophomore pitcher Julia Dailey was the tournament MVP after allowing only three earned runs in 15 2/3 innings, carrying the load on the mound for Wallace State during the final month of the season. Garcia and sophomore Sarah Ellen Battles were also all-tournament selections.
Dailey finished the season with a 10-1 record and a 1.90 ERA for Wallace State. Freshman Brittany Ledbetter went 19-5 with a 3.32 ERA and Jessie Butler went 5-4 with a 2.79 ERA.
Benson was named the 2016 ACCC Coach of the Year. Michal Robertson, a former Wallace State infielder, served as the assistant coach in 2016.
Wallace State’s sophomore class consisted of Dailey, Garcia, Battles, Parr, Brown, Leisha Yamauchi, Olivia Royal, Jennifer Gonzalez, Kayla Byrd, Megan Quimby, Erin Benson and Ashley Smith. The sophomore class was a part of 111 wins, two conference championships and two national tournament appearances in two seasons.
Wallace State softball excels academically as well, maintaining a presence each year with some of the best GPA’s collectively. Wallace State was the 2008-09 NJCAA Academic Team of the Year after posting a 3.72 GPA and finished the 2014-15 season with a 3.46 GPA, the top mark in the state. Softball’s Amanda Medders, Rachel Ragland and Andrea McKenzie each received national recognition for their academic achievements during the 2014-15 season.
In 2015, pitcher Rachel Ragland became the third Wallace State athlete to be named the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) Community College Player of the Year. The Pleasant Grove native was also a NJCAA 1st-team All-American and the 2015 ACCC Player of the Year.
Fast pitch softball at Wallace State dates back to 1997 and became a state and national power once Clem took over in 1999. She compiled an 823-217 record at Wallace State in 16 seasons, winning two national championships and being named the ACCC Coach of the Year 11 times.
Wallace State softball’s 10 conference championships came in 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2010-2007, 2005 and 2003.
Wallace State won its first national championship in 2008, and during a dominant three-year run to the NJCAA Division I title game (2008-10), the program compiled a 193-27 record (68-8 in 2008, 63-10 in 2009 and 62-9 in 2010), captured three ACCC championships and produced six combined NJCAA 1st-Team All-Americans.
During the 2013 national title run, Wallace State knocked off the No. 1, 2 and 5 seeds in St. George, Utah, clubbing eight homers and scoring 33 runs in six games. Katie Gentle and BreeAnna Blevins each earned NJCAA First-Team All-American recognition in 2013, while Benson, Gentle, Lindsey DeFee and Blevins earned NFCA All-American nods.
For more information about Wallace State softball, contact Coach Daugherty at 256-352-8355 or email him at email@example.com