By Gene Phelps
Kaleigh Tackett enjoys the adrenaline rush that comes with hitting a home run … well, at least when she knows the softball is going out of the ballpark.
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel right and I don’t know it’s going out,” said Nettleton’s senior third baseman. “I’ll run toward first base and hear my teammates. I’ll be like, ‘My gosh!’”
Tackett, who batted .670 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI, has been named the Daily Journal’s 2013 Player of the Year in slow-pitch softball. Tackett’s teammate, junior outfielder Jabria Pounds, and Baldwyn senior outfielder Jorda Waters were also considered for the award.
Tackett credits her power numbers to her work in the weightroom. “That’s where I get most of my strength,” she said.
She and her teammate, Pounds, generated a bulk of the team’s power at the plate. Pounds batted .568 and hit 21 homers despite missing a few weeks of the season with a knee injury.
Nettleton coach Dana Rhea couldn’t believe the season Tackett had at the plate. At one point, she hit homers in nine consecutive games.
“She was unconscious,” Rhea said. “I kept wondering when she was going to wake up.
“She’s not the best player I’ve had, but she did have the best season of any player I’ve ever had at Nettleton.”
Tackett, who has earned five state championship rings – two in slow-pitch, three in fast-pitch – just missed adding a sixth this season.
The Lady Tigers, who finished the season 26-5, lost to Choctaw Central in the Class 3A state championship series.
“We weren’t expecting to lose at state,” she said. “We had some young players and everybody was anxious. You feel the pressure.”
Tackett will have a shot to win a sixth championship this spring in fast-pitch. Earlier this month, she signed to play for Blue Mountain College.
“I’m not ready to give up softball,” she said. “I loved playing slow-pitch. It was so much fun. It gave me something to do and it kept me in shape … in the swing of things.”