Pike’s Avant named ASWA POY, Charles Henderson puts five on All-State team

Published 11:01 pm Friday, June 6, 2014

There is a reason Pike Liberal’s Chandler Avant and Charles Henderson’s Chase Smartt have college scouts drooling.

Both players were recognized as Hitter of the Year in their respective classifications by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Avant was also chosen as the AISA Player of the Year and the first team shortstop.

Including Smartt, four other Charles Henderson players – John Michael Stephens, Austin Ingram, John Johnson and Hunter Baggett – were named to the 4A All-State Team.

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Avant was the lone member of AISA AAA runnber-up Pike Liberal Arts Patriots to get the nod. Avant, an Alabama signee, batted .505, knocked 10 homers and drove in 36 RBIs.

On the mound, he was a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities in 2014, and picked up 4 wins along the way.

“Chandler can do it all really,” former Pike Liberal Arts head coach Butch Austin said. “Every accolade that comes his way is well deserved. He was the leader of this team on the field and off of it. A lot of the kids try to do what Chandler does, because they know that he is going to things the right way.”

Smartt’s powerful bat led the way for Charles Henderson’s five All-State nods. John Michael Stephens was selected as one of four first team pitchers. Austin Ingram got the nod as the 4A first team first baseman, Smartt picked up the catcher spot and the uber-athletic John Johnson was picked as an outfielder.

Hunter Baggett was named as honorable mention designated hitter.

“It is a huge honor for our program to have five guys picked to be a part of the All-State team,” said Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons. “It is well deserved for each one of them, and really says a lot for the sports writers to rcognize four of our guys as some of the best position players in the state, and Shaggy as one of the top pitchers out there.”

Smartt’s Hitter of the Year award comes on the heels of former Trojan slugger Joey Denison 2013 award.

Having back-to-back Hitter of the Year winners is something Irons said he will cherish for a long time.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Joey was the best hitter in the state last year, and that Chase was the best this year,” said Irons. “To be Hitter of the Year, you can’t be a one-trick pony. You have to be a complete hitter . Chase can hit as far as anyone, but he can also take a good pitch and flip it in to right field. That is a good hitter right there.”