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The Wallace State softball program captured its 11th Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament championship during the 2017 season under first-year coach A.J. Daugherty and assistant Sallie Beth Burch.
After a summer of transition, Daugherty, 30, and the Lions made sure the conference title stayed in Hanceville. Wallace State finished the season with a 39-18 record, including beginning the conference slate 10-0. The Lions later put together a perfect four-game march at the ACCC tournament, capping the championship on a walk-off home run by freshman Tanner Robertson.
Robertson’s homer lifted Wallace State softball to its 11th ACCC championship over the last 15 seasons, its third in a row and ninth in 11 seasons. The Lions also made their 11th NJCAA Division I national tournament appearance and third in a row, earning a No. 12 seed in St. George, Utah.
Wallace State softball is indeed a national champion on the field and in the classroom. Since 2003, Wallace State softball has won two NJCAA Division I National Championships (2008, 2013). The Lions were also national runner-up on two other occasions (2009 and 2010) and third in 2012.
Wallace State also had many impressive individual achievements in 2017.
Sophomore catcher/infielder Taylor Beshears was named a NFCA 1st-team All-South Region selection after hitting .453 with a team-high 17 home runs and 45 RBIs. The Hewitt-Trussville native was also named the ACCC Tournament MVP and a 1st-team All-Region 22 selection. As a freshman, Beshears was named a NJCAA 3rd-team All-American after hitting .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. She was also named the 2016 ACCC North Division Player of the Year as a freshman and an ACCC All-Tournament selection. Beshears finished her WSCC career with 30 homers and 129 RBIs.
Wallace State center fielder Amber Hammonds was a NFCA All-South Region 3rd-team selection in 2017 in addition to being named to the All-ACCC/Region 22 first team. Hammonds hit .373 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 2017, tying Beshears for the team lead in RBIs. She also added a team-high 16 steals. Hammonds closed her Wallace State career with 20 homers, 73 RBIs and 44 stolen bases in two seasons.
Wallace State’s Brittany Ledbetter, Karra Elam and Charlee West were each All-ACCC 2nd-team selections. Ledbetter, Elam and Jodie Farnetti were ACCC All-Tournament selections.
Ledbetter had a splendid season as the Lions’ ace, compiling a 19-10 record with a 2.14 ERA in 170 innings pitched. She also recorded 178 strikeouts and hit .318 at the plate with three homers and 41 RBIs. Elam hit .372 with three homers and 31 RBIs and West sported a .377 average with 10 homers and 40 RBIs.
Wallace State hit .329 as a club with seven regulars hitting .300 or better.
Madison Grant complemented Ledbetter on the mound. Grant went 8-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 79 innings.
Wallace State’s sophomore class consisted of Beshears, Hammonds, Ledbetter, Elam, Lyndsay Reeves, Savannah Bolton, Haley Hughes, Bailee Daugherty and Ashton Gaddy. The sophomore class was a part of 88 wins, two conference championships and two national tournament appearances in two seasons.
Daugherty came to Wallace State after spending 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.
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. During the 2015-2016 season, Wallace State softball compiled a 3.38 GPA.
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.
Wallace State softball’s 11 conference championships came in 2017, 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, clubbing 8 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 program information contact:
A.J. Daugherty, Wallace State Softball Coach