By Rubin E. Grant
Katie Flannery is something of a perfectionist.
So, when she discusses her just-completed junior softball season at Spain Park, it comes from that perspective, especially considering the numbers she put at the plate.
Flannery had a .451 batting average, a .541 on-base percentage, a .778 slugging percentage and a ridiculous 1.381 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). She also had 24 extra-base hits, including 10 home runs and 11 doubles, 50 runs batted in and 49 runs scored. She struck out only seven times in 173 plate appearances.
But the perfectionist in her won’t let Flannery admire her productive season.
“I could have had a better season,” Flannery said. “I say that because I’m never satisfied.”
Over the Mountain softball coaches, however, were satisfied with Flannery’s performance, voting her as the 2022 OTM Softball Player of the Year.
“I didn’t expect it,” Flannery said. “I’m really blessed that all the coaches thought I was worthy of the honor.”
Spain Park softball coach C.J. Urse Hawkins certainly did.
“She had a great year,” Urse Hawkins said. “She played shortstop almost every game and she was really good there. She’s really fun to watch.”
Flannery moved to shortstop this year after playing third base as a sophomore. She wasn’t too fond of the move.
“I loved playing third base,” Flannery said. “When Coach Hawkins told me I was moving to shortstop, I just tried to do my best. I used to play short when I was younger.”
Flannery made only seven errors in 190 total chances and had a .963 fielding percentage. She had 84 assists and 99 putouts, and she turned 13 double plays.
“She knows where to be in every situation,” Urse Hawkins said. “She’s so versatile, you can use her wherever you need her. She also can play the outfield.”
It was the plate where she really stood out as the Jags compiled a 33-15-2 record and finished fifth in the Class 7A state softball tournament.
“She has great hand-eye coordination,” Urse Hawkins said. “She’s very balanced at the plate. She batted third for us and was really clutch.”
Flannery is an elite player. In 2021, she played in the Premier Girls Fast-pitch Futures All-American Game in California. This summer she has been selected to play in the Alabama High School Athletic Association North-South Softball All-Star game during the 2022 AHSAA North-South All-Star Sports Week July 18-22.
“I’m so excited about that,” Flannery said. “I think it will be a good experience, playing with and against the best in the state. And it’s going to fun because some of my friends are coming to play, too.”
With her senior year coming up, Flannery already has decided where she wants to play college softball, committing to Oregon.
“I went out there and saw how much they support their program, and I loved the coaches and the facilities, so that’s where I decided to go,” she said.
Coach of the Year
Mountain Brook’s Heather McGuirk was voted 2022 OTM Coach of the Year after leading the Spartans to a 20-19 record with only one senior on the roster and their first regional tournament appearance since 2014.
“That’s pretty incredible,” McGuirk said. “I just finished my fourth season at Mountain Brook, and I’ve had a fantastic group of kids to work with. They worked hard and fully bought in to what we were doing.
“Making the regional for the first time in eight years was huge. I hope it’s the start of the kind of success we’ll see in the future.”