Cain, Nelson earn TB&T Spring Athletes of the Year

Published 11:12 am Friday, June 10, 2022

Charles Henderson softball player McKenzie Cain and Pike Liberal Arts baseball player Drew Nelson have been selected as The Messenger/Troy Bank and Trust Spring Athletes of the Year.

Both Nelson and Cain led their respective teams to successful 2022 seasons with the Pike Patriots earning their fourth straight AISA State Championship, while the Lady Trojans

Finished 29-19 and made it to the regional round of the Class 5A State Playoffs.

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Cain was The Messenger’s All-Area Player of the Year as a junior had an even more successful senior season. She finished the 2022 season with a .450 batting average and .813 slugging percentage along with earning 72 hits, 17 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases, 60 RBIs and 53 runs scored. On defense, she was Charles Henderson’s starting catcher and earned 218 putouts along with 28 assists and a .984 fielding percentage.

McKenzie Cain is the TB&T Spring Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

“McKenzie was and still is a great leader,” former Lady Trojan coach Khadija Neely said. “She meant a lot to the team. She caught all of our games except maybe one or two and was a real leader on the field.”

Cain has also earned first-team all-state honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association and she signed a letter-of-intent to continue her softball career in college at the University of Tennessee-Southern. Neely said that it’s not just her play on the field that makes her standout.

“She was a leader, not only on the field but in the classroom with her grades,” Neely emphasized. “She’s a well-rounded player and meant a whole lot to the program.”

Nelson was one of the top baseball players in the state this season and the accolades have come in since the end of the season to support that. After winning All-Tournament for his performance during the playoffs, Nelson has also been named Gatorade Alabama Baseball Player of the Year and Dothan Eagle Super 12, as well.

“He’s meant a lot,” Hixon said of Nelson. “He has pitched on the varsity level since the eighth grade and has been a huge part of the success we’ve had for the past 4-5 years.

“Having someone like that you can count on in the middle of the lineup and on the mound is something you cannot replace.”

Drew Nelson’s accolades continue to pour in as he wins the TB&T Spring Male Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

Nelson capped off his senior season with a fourth straight state championship and boasted a 1.00 ERA with 106 strikeouts, giving up just 18 total hits in 49 innings pitched in 2022. On the offensive end, Nelson earned a .463 batting average with six home runs, seven doubles, eight triples and a .895 slugging percentage.

Nelson saved his best play for last as he struck out 42 batters, while giving up just five hits and one earned run during the playoffs. Nelson will also continue his baseball career in college as he gets to set to play for the SEC’s Auburn Tigers.

“We’ll definitely miss him,” Hixon said of the senior. “The way he went about his work, he led by example with his work ethic, and his production on the field spoke for itself. I said it after the state championship, he’s the best player to ever wear the Pike jersey and we will definitely miss him.”