Hard to replace

Fayetteville’s Peyton Wesson recorded 137 strikeouts in 64 innings on the mound.

A baker’s dozen of Talladega County baseball players from a trio of schools earned first-team Class 1A-3A all-county honors, while three more picked up honorable mention recognition.

Fayetteville High School placed four players on the first team: Peyton Wesson, Jacob Vice, Kolter Usrey and JB Matson.

“As always, you’re really proud of your kids for getting recognized and receiving such an award as all-county,” Wolves head coach Morris Phillips said. “JB Matson did a phenomenal job for us batting leadoff this year. He did what a leadoff guy is supposed to do, which is to find a way to get on base … Defensively, he was able to anchor down the center field position for us.

“Jacob Vice works hard at everything he does, and he gives you everything he has in practice. He gives you all he’s got in a game and he’s hard on himself.

“Kolter Usrey, he has a good bat, and that’s one of the things I guess you could say got him nominated for all-county as far as coming through in clutch situations. I think he led our team in doubles this year.

“Peyton Wesson, he’s a phenomenal kid. He’s one that, no doubt, is a key player on your team, and he’d be a key player for anybody on any team. He’s going to be hard to replace.”

Wesson, a Troy signee, also took home the small school Pitcher of the Year honor. He earned a first-team spot on the 2A all-state team and was fifth in the nation in strikeouts (137), according to MaxPreps.

“That’s a very big deal,” Phillips said. “A lot of schools look at MaxPreps and a lot of college coaches look at MaxPreps.

“Peyton had a great year on the mound. I know his record (6-5) didn’t show too much as far as having a great year, but when you look at all his other numbers, he had a really phenomenal year.”

Wesson allowed 27 hits, 21 runs (12 earned) and 19 walks in 64 innings. He also had a 1.37 ERA and a .719 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).

The Wolves (17-13) advanced to the playoffs for the 11th straight season, but they were swept by Ranburne in the first round.

Phillips was named the Coach of the Year in the county for 1A-3A.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great honor to be selected as the Coach of the Year, but that also goes back to our kids,” he said. “When you have really good kids, it’s an easy task.

“These kids worked hard to make the playoffs for the 11th straight year to keep that tradition alive at Fayetteville. They also worked hard to clinch the small school county tournament once again …

“They make my job easy. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be receiving this award.”

Fayetteville’s Zach Roberts made the all-county squad as an honorable mention.

B.B. Comer’s Brian Bradford, Ward Rush, Jordan Worsley and Brent Bearden made the all-county first team.

Bearden was selected the small school Hitter of the Year. Tigers head coach Mark Vincent said Bearden was a key leader for the squad and a difference-maker with his bat.

“Bearden had doubles and good singles for us,” Vincent said. “It got to the point where he was so hot, he was intentionally walked a lot.

“He really stepped up during the year in big situations. He would come through, and having that presence in the lineup really meant a lot. We had a couple guys around him hitting, so at times, it was hard to pitch around him.”

Winterboro yielded the most players on the all-county squad with five first-teamers: Luke Wheeler, Phil Jones, Brody Hamm, Dontrell Duncan and Shaun Vincent. Chase Rodham and Jackson Newsome represented Winterboro as honorable mentions.

“It was a senior group that played together for a long time,” Bulldogs head coach Alan Beckett said. “Luke Wheeler’s a special guy. He was probably our school’s all-time hits leader … He had a bunch of wins for us pitching and played several positions for us in the field.

“Phil Jones is a kid who can play at the next level. He struck out a lot of batters, and I don’t think he made an error all year in the field, which is kind of crazy …

“Brody Hamm has got a really bright future and has a really strong arm. He had times during the year where he was really hot at the plate, and he threw out a lot of baserunners.

“Dontrell Duncan, who comes from a really strong baseball family, got hot at the plate as the year went on. He’s really adjusted to the move, and he’s definitely a good addition for us.”

Duncan transferred to Winterboro from Talladega County Central for the 2018-19 academic year.

“Shaun Vincent had his best year hitting,” Beckett said. “He was a three-sport star, and baseball was probably his least favorite of all three. He had a really good senior year and just made some crazy good plays in the field defensively. He was a really good and really strong outfielder.”

The all-county team was selected by Talladega County coaches.