State prep stars gather in Huntsville for the week
By Brooke Milam
It’s been long and busy summer of baseball for Hartselle High’s J.C. Bates.
He played with the Tennessee Valley Eagles of Athens in parks from Starkville, Miss., to Nashville, Auburn to Tuscaloosa, Troy to Jacksonville and Birmingham. It’s a schedule that has kept him on the go.
Bates, a pitcher/infielder, reached the finals of the East-West Lions Club all-star series in June and also turned heads in the recent Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Underclassmen All-Star Showcase at Troy University, but he said this week’s 11th annual All-Star Sports Week in Huntsville ranks among the most important events for him this summer.
“It’s an important week,” Bates said. “You want to show you can play at that level of competition because it’s the best players around.”
Rising seniors selected from Alabama high schools will participate in North vs. South competition in baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and volleyball.
Athletes chosen in football are recent graduates capping their high school careers.
Bates is the only athlete from Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties chosen in baseball, which will begin the week’s contests Monday at 4 p.m. at Joe Davis Stadium.
All-Star Sports Week also features clinics and sessions for coaches and officials.
The competition will conclude with the North/South football game Friday night at 7 p.m. at Alabama A&M University’s Louis Crews Stadium. Austin’s Morgan Hull, Hartselle’s Dusty Schofield, Hazlewood’s Davon McCoy and R.A. Hubbard’s Corey Key and Devans Orr are on the North roster for that contest.
Austin’s Stephanie White and Jake Mendenhall and Decatur’s Claire Walker and Michael Alfano will play in the soccer games at John Hunt Park on Tuesday.
Softball will feature Decatur’s Lindsey Hawkins, Hartselle’s Kristy Pevahouse and Ardmore’s Casey Steadman on Wednesday. Jessy Willingham of Addison is the only local chosen for Thursday’s volleyball match, while Austin’s Jazmine Powers, Hartselle’s Jessi Smith and Hazlewood’s Kerry Jones will play in the girls and boys basketball games scheduled for Thursday night at Spragins Hall on the campus of Alabama-Huntsville.
It’s an opportunity for local athletes to promote themselves, but also a chance to represent and bring positive attention to their respective high school programs.
“I look at it as a boost for (Bates) and for our program,” Hartselle baseball coach William Booth said. “He wants to play college ball, and this helps him out. It’s a lift for our program, and it’s important for his future.”
Like Bates, other all-stars also have found time for the event amid a busy schedule this summer.
Decatur’s Hawkins, who will compete as an all-star in softball, has juggled a full summer softball schedule with the Huntsville Sharks, along with basketball practices and summer games for the Lady Red Raiders as she prepares for her senior year.
Hawkins said it’s an honor to be named among the North’s best. The roster will include Hartselle’s Pevahouse, an opponent during the high school season who is a Huntsville Sharks teammate of Hawkins’ this summer.
“It’s an honor to be selected and it’ll be fun to get to know some of the better players in the North,” Hawkins said.
Austin’s Powers, a self-proclaimed “student of the game,” said she also will be scouting the competition.
Getting to know teammates will be part of the fun, but she said she wants to see talent from different parts of the state that she might not see in the Austin regular season.
“I’m looking forward to playing against a whole lot of good competition,” Powers said. “Everybody on the team will be good, and you look forward to playing in games like that.”
Familiar with good competition, Powers is in Orlando this weekend for the AAU Nationals with the Alabama Twisters. Some of her teammates from that squad, including Hoover’s Lyndsay Harris, Fort Payne’s Capriee Tucker and Davidson’s Jasmine Bendolph, will compete in the All-Star Sports Week.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and playing good basketball,” Powers said. “You get to play with good players and against them. It should be a lot of fun.”
All-Star Sports Week in Huntsville
Baseball: Joe Davis Stadium at 4 p.m.; area athlete: J.C. Bates, Hartselle High.
Girls soccer: John Hunt Park at 5 p.m.; area athletes: Claire Walker, Decatur; Stephanie White, Austin.
Boys soccer: John Hunt Park at 7 p.m.; area athletes: Michael Alfano, Decatur; Jake Mendenhall, Austin.
Softball: Metro Kiwanis Sportsplex at 6 p.m.; area athletes: Lindsey Hawkins, Decatur; Kristy Pevahouse, Hartselle; Casey Steadman, Ardmore.
Volleyball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 2 p.m.; area athlete: Jessy Willingham, Addison.
Girls basketball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 6 p.m.; area athletes: Jazmine Powers, Austin; Jessi Smith, Hartselle.
Boys basketball: UAH’s Spragins Hall at 8 p.m.; area athlete: Kerry Jones, Hazlewood.
Football: Alabama A&M University’s Louis Crews Stadium at 7 p.m.; area athletes: Morgan Hull, Austin; Dusty Schofield, Hartselle; Davon McCoy, Hazlewood; Devans Orr and Corey Key, R.A. Hubbard.
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