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Class 4A-6A All-Calhoun County softball: Gattis capped career with another outstanding season

Gattis perfect game-bc _7.jpg

Alexandria's Rylee Gattis threw a perfect game in a 9-0 victory over Guntersville.

ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria softball has provided Calhoun County a mark of consistency under longtime head coach Brian Hess. Rylee Gattis helped to keep it that way.

Her elite pitching and strong production at the plate helped Alexandria make the 5A state tournament for the second year in a row, and Gattis will repeat as The Anniston Star’s 4A-6A Calhoun County player of the year.

The Carson-Newman signee finished her prep career as a two-time Alabama Sports Writers Association 5A player and pitcher of the year, as well, and a three-time first-team all-county selection.

Alexandria made the 5A state tournament in 2021 and 2022. There was no state tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 shutdown.

The 2020 season was Gattis’ first at Alexandria after she and twin sister/catcher Chloe transferred from Southside. They transferred in after Maggie Phillips and Lanie Dreyer graduated and one year after Emmah Rolfe moved to Bob Jones.

In 2022, Gattis went 36-8 with an 0.75 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. She struck out 379 batters in 250 1/3 innings, including 48 strikeouts in five state-tournament games. She pitched three shutouts with 39 strikeouts in 19 innings during the first day of the state tournament, helping Alexandria reach the finals.

Hayden beat Alexandria 6-5 and 3-0 in the finals to win the state title, but Gattis pitched a two-hitter in the decisive game. All three runs came on two Hayden home runs.

Gattis also batted .420 with a .457 on-base percentage and .682 slugging percentage. She hit four home runs, three triples, 28 doubles and drove in 54 runs.

Gattis’ contributions helped Alexandria win its fourth consecutive county title and 11th under Hess and put her in a category with elite former county players like Sarah Howell, Taylor West and Mandy Burford.

Gattis took a minute to participate in her second Star player-of-the-year Q&A:

Question: You’ve had time to reflect on the season, so what to make of what Alexandria accomplished?

Answer: I’m really proud of us. We definitely grew as a team from last year to this year. We grew closer to each other. Everybody improved this year. It’s sad the way it ended, but I think ending on such a positive note will help them next year, even without the four seniors they had this past year.

Q: What about your season, individually?

A: I’m going to really use that to go into travel ball and try to grow more in travel ball as I’m going into college. I’ve gotten stronger. I pitch a lot, so it takes a lot of mental work and physical work to produce on the mound.

Q: You’re one of the most decorated players to come through this county. What about your career makes you proudest?

A: It’s just truly been a blessing. My twin sister, my teammates and my coaches have helped me to accomplish that. I’m probably proudest of 5A player of the year, because I’m able to prove myself not just as a pitcher but as an overall player.

Q: The top three of Alexandria’s order was so productive, with Jill Cockrell, Ashley Phillips and you. What was it like, working with them in front of you?

A: Jill is still young, which is really good for her. Jill’s on-base percentage was very high. She was always able to find a way on. Then me and Ashley are such contact hitters, so with Jill always getting on, me and Ashley were able to move each other around a lot. We were able to put runs on the board easily.

Q: When Ashley hit two grand slams in one inning against Cleburne County, were you like, ‘Hey, leave me some?’

A: I was more proud of her than anything. I’m just excited to see my teammates do well.

Q: Last we talked, Chloe mentioned plans to visit Carson-Newman. Where do things stand with that?

A: She just visited yesterday, so she’s trying to kind of make her mind up about that. I think she’s wanting to go.

Q: What would it mean for you two to continue to be teammates?

A: It would mean the absolute world to me. She didn’t think that she was wanting to play, so my feelings were hurt, but I knew I couldn’t convince her. I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to make her feel like she had to play, but now that she’s coming to play, it’s such a relief. I will have her, and I will have a catcher I’m comfortable with. I’ll be a better pitcher with her catching me.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.