Kierra Groce proved that hard work pays off as she was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 4A honorable mention All-State team that was released on Thursday. 

“That is a joy,” Groce said. “That has been a goal that I have always tried to achieve. I told my mom that making All-Area and All-County was good, but I wanted more than that. It has been one of my goals since I have been playing softball in high school.”

Going into the season, she wasn’t confident that she was going to put together a season that was All-State worthy. The junior pitcher/short stop said she was stunned when she got the call saying she made the All-State team.

“I am a little surprised,” Groce said. “I thought I had a chance, but I really didn’t have that much faith in myself. When I was told that I made it, I was excited and a little shocked about it. Hard work pays off.”

The Lady Lions (16-14) spent most of the regular season as one of the top 10 teams in the ASWA rankings, but down the stretch they lost five of the last six regular season games and they lost to Lincoln in the area tournament. Individually, Groce had a solid season at the plate. She had a batting average of .394; she had 28 hits, seven homers and 18 RBI.

“The season was OK at the beginning; we kind of struggled towards the middle of the season,” Groce said. “I expected more out of our team because we had a better team than how we played in the area tournament. We could have been one of the teams that went to Regionals, but we didn’t play like we wanted to advance. As far as home runs, at that moment I just wanted to help my team win. In the Pell City game, they led 2-1 and I had two people on base and I ended up hitting it out, so that was a big game. Every time I go to the plate I try not to worry about striking out or hitting home runs. When I go up there, I take a deep breath, I pray and I try to get a good hit. I ended the season having seven home runs, which was probably the most that I have had in my softball career.”

Groce said her latest accomplishment won’t stop her from training and preparing for next season.

“I work hard every year to get better,” she said. “Every off season and whenever I get a chance, I try to get better and do better than I did the year before. I always try to have different goals when I come into the next season. This year, I really want to make it to state. I’ve never been able to play on the field before, but I have been up there.”