WELLBORN — There are numerous words that can describe Carlee Mullinax’s play for Wellborn High’s softball team.
Panthers head coach Brenda Vinson’s favorites are commitment, composure and personal discipline. There also are words such as dominant, hardworking and successful that seem appropriate, as well.
Only a freshman, Mullinax led Wellborn with a .447 batting average, 55 hits, eight home runs, 56 RBIs and 49 runs. She stole 11 bases and compiled a .468 field percentage at third base. She helped Wellborn post a 26-19 record, finish runner-up in Class 2A, Area 12 and fourth in the North Central Regional.
Because of her accomplishments, Mullinax is The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 1A-2A softball player of the year for the second straight season.
“If you look at her skills, she’s as good defensively as she is offensively, but I think hitting is something everyone loves to do,” Vinson said. “Carlee doesn’t rattle very easily. She’s cool, calm and stays composed through most of the games.”
Vinson also said Mullinax has a lot of drive, and the freshman often spends time on her own practicing with her dad, Chad.
“My dad would take me down to the field and I would hit until 8 o’clock every night. On the weekends when we didn’t have anything to do we’d get a bunch of the girls together,” she said. “On Wednesday nights, which is the night we get out of practice at 4:30, we’d all get together, go to the field and hit a couple of them.
“We’ve really put a lot of work into the weight room to get the strength, but I’ve worked for it.”
While the hard work will continue into next year, Vinson said the work the freshman has put in since joining the varsity team in seventh grade has shown.
“She’s gotten stronger and quicker. This past year she had a total of five errors for the whole season,” she said. “That kind of gives you an idea of progress and improvement as far as anticipation and reading where the batter’s at.
“There’s so much more to the game as far as understanding the concepts of the game, not just see the ball, hit the ball. There are a lot of other areas to look for and she’s improving there.”
But while Mullinax acknowledged she had a good season, she was also quick to add that the Panthers didn’t reach their goal of making it back to the Class 2A state tournament.
“We still have time to get better, though,” she said. “We’ll have to work really hard for it because nothing comes easy. We’re all athletic enough to work around anything. So as long as we put our minds together, work hard and put forth the effort then we can do it.”
Wellborn returns every player on the roster except for two, which has the program buzzing about the opportunities for next year.
“I’m very excited about having (Mullinax) back and the whole group back,” Vinson said. “They’re developing very well, and it’s hard when you see someone in the seventh or eighth grade that can play at the varsity level mature fast playing in ninth grade. This group, I think, was better this year than last year, as far as understanding. I think a lot of it has to do with the mental aspect of it.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.