Back before it was politically correct, catching gear was called the tools of ignorance. Monterey softball coach Cary Shively can hardly stop laughing about that statement. That's because Shively's catcher is the epitome of intelligence on and off the field. Lady Wolf junior Andy Gray just completed her fourth year behind the plate. The phrase tools of ignorance actually was coined by catcher Herold "Muddy" Ruel, who played from 1915 through 1934. The term is meant to point out the irony that a player with the intelligence needed to be effective behind the plate would be foolish enough to play a position that required so much safety equipment. "There are a lot of times I let Andy call pitches," Shively said. "She will look at me and I will just point at her. She'll check out the feet of the batter in the box and she knows what pitch is working better than any other. And she does a great job of directing traffic on the field. She doesn't make very many mistakes -- if any. And she comes to the ballpark ready to play every game." Gray offered to catch as an eighth-grader because the Lady Wolves were down in numbers that year. "I actually really enjoyed it after the first game," Gray said. "I ilke being able to encourage my teammates from behind the plate and I enjoy seeing the field and being a leader." Gray credits all the coaching she has had through the years, especially with current Monterey coaches Shively and Eric Richard. "They have helped me so much," she said. "And all my teammates are so encouraging." Gray, the 2019 All-Parish Player of the Year, was just as effective at the plate as she was behind it. Gray batted .507 on the season -- .684 in District 5B play, walked 10 times and only struck out twice. "When she steps up to the plate I expect her to produce and she does," Shively said. Gray said playing catcher helps her offensively. "I can get the feel of how the umpire is calling the game and tell what the strike zone is for that game," she said. "And I have an idea of what a pitcher may throw in certain situations." Gray also excelled in basketball and track, averaging 16 points and 6.1 rebounds a game on the basketball court and finishing fourth in the 300-hurdles at 52.50 and eighth in the triple jump at 28 feet, 6.5 inches in the Class B State Track Meet at LSU. "Playing all sports helps keep me in shape and with my athleticism," she said. Gray is one of several Monterey juniors returning next season for their senior year. "I'm going to work hard to increase my batting average," Gray said. "And I truly believe we have a real good shot of making it to the state tournament. It would be awesome to end my career by getting to State." The 2019 Coach of the Year is Vidalia's Forrest Foster. The Lady Vikings finished with the most wins since 2015, earning a No. 19 ranking in Class 2A. Vidalia fell to No. 14 Lakeside 4-0 in a first-round playoff contest in Sibley. The Lady Vikings finished 14-11. "I thought we had a good year," Foster said. "We hit the ball well. Our defense was spotty, but our offense was always on key." Foster had to deal with two key injuries when infielder Lexi Maynard went down in the first game with a torn meniscus. Utility player Tiffany Brewer missed nine games with a knee injury. "That set us back, especially defensively," Foster said. "We had to make some changes we weren't really comfortable with." Foster said he is anxious to start next season. "We'll be fine," he said. "I'm fortunate to have good assistant coaches in Jackie Johnston and James Thomas. Next year, we could have a couple of new girls step right in and start." Named to the All-Parish team along with Gray from Monterey are Harlie Murray, Allie Lipsey and Maddy Green. Murray batted .360 with 11 walks. Lipsey hit .387 with six walks.s Green batted .426 with four walks. Representing Vidalia High are senior Macie Seyfarth, junior Shelbi Cross, senior Tiffany Brewer, freshman Cayley Weatherly, senior Sara Cockerham, and junior Tiona Ellis Cockerham batted .430, hit six home runs and was 13-8 on the mound with 93 strikeouts. Brewer batted .448 while playing catcher, infield and outfield. Ellis hit .410 with 16 RBI. Weatherly hit .362 with a home run. Cross hit .518 and collected three home runs. Representing Delta Charter are senior Skyler Bolyer and freshman Jaden Boydstun. Bolyer batted .296 with a home run. She finished the season with an .875 fielding average. Boydstun batted .324 with a home run.

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