By Lee Davis
Sonny Potter’s genetic makeup might suggest that he’s a fine athlete.
His grandfather was Jimmy Sidle, an All-American quarterback at Auburn University in the early 1960s. While Sidle’s footsteps are large, his grandson more than filled them in the 2016 baseball season.
Potter was a driving force for Vestavia Hills as the Rebels posted a 30-8 record, at one time ranking second in the nation among high school teams. On the mound, the senior pitcher posted an 8-2 record with 91 strikeouts and only 15 walks. Potter posted a microscopic ERA of .889.
He was also outstanding with his bat, hitting at an average of .295 with 23 RBIs and four home runs.
As is the case with most great athletes, Potter doesn’t mind when the burden of a game falls on his shoulders.
“At a school with a tradition like Vestavia’s, pressure is a privilege,” he said.
Potter’s ability to perform under pressure made an impression. He was chosen in an exclusive poll of Over the Mountain baseball coaches as the 2016 Over the Mountain Baseball Player of the Year. The coaches also chose the All-Over the Mountain baseball team.
“No matter how tough the situation, Sonny was always our bulldog on the mound,” Rebel coach Jamie Harris said. “He had so much determination and nothing ever rattled him.”
Potter credited his coaches and teammates for his success.
“We spent 90 percent of our time in practice working on pitching and defense,” he said. “It was easy to pitch with confidence when you have great guys surrounding you.”
Although his high school career has ended, Potter’s life in baseball will continue. He’ll play for the University of Alabama next season.
“High school was great, but it’s time to move on,” he said. “I’ll have great memories of my years at Vestavia.”
The coaches also chose Oak Mountain coach Derek Irons as the 2015 Over the Mountain Baseball Coach of the Year. In his first season, Irons lead an unheralded Eagle team to a 33-14 worksheet and fell one game short of reaching the state 7A finals in Montgomery. Irons came to Oak Mountain from Charles Henderson High School near Troy.
“It’s an honor to be named Coach of the Year, but it’s really a tribute to our players,” Irons said. “They bought into what we were teaching from the very beginning and worked hard all year.”
Potter was joined on the All-Over the Mountain team by Rebel teammates Christian Cusimano, Parker Hershey, Nathan Hospes and Caden Lemons. Other players qualifying for the team were Luis Fuentes and Sam Strickland, Briarwood; Matt Cerfolio, John Carroll Catholic; Carson Griffis, Josh Miller and John Marc Mullins, Homewood; Noah Barron, Brock Guttery, Christopher Vacarella and Tyler Williamson, Hoover; Luke Hartman and Clay Stearns, Mountain Brook; Joseph Hartsfield, Gene Hurst, John McDonald, and Mason Williamson, Oak Mountain; Will Battersby and Bryan Sanderson, Spain Park.
Follow the link for the All-OTM softball team.