It was more of a reminder of what the two had been through. Thinking through everything the three-sport athlete had done during her years at Saks, Lively simply called West as “amazing.”
“I say it all the time and people ask me to describe amazing, but it’s just her,” the coach said. “She’s a good kid, who comes from a good family. She was raised well. She’s respectful. She works hard, and she’s everything that a coach wants everyone to be.”
On the field, West was nothing short of incredible, earning the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 3A Player of the Year honor.
The senior dominated on the circle, holding a 0.48 ERA over 334 2/3 innings.
She also struck out 610 batters, 47 short of a state record. For West, she just wanted to top her 2012 total, which she exceeded by more than 100. As a result, she is The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 3A softball player of the year.
“I think she set a bar at Saks by how she acts and how she carries herself,” Lively said. “Even off the field, she was an honor student that made straight A’s. She was in the top 10. She was going to church all the time. She’s just a great kid.”
Despite West’s strong pitching, one thing that will always stand out to Lively came from West at the plate in Saks’ first game in the South Central Regional. Against Susan Moore, West hit a grand slam, a three-run home run and another grand slam in consecutive at-bats.
“When she hit the first one, I said, Wow, that’s amazing,’ and slapping her fives,” Lively recalled. “The second time I was thinking what is going on and when she hit the last one, I said, Did you eat your Wheaties? Is that the key? Whatever you ate, I’m going to buy a truckload of it for the rest of the season.’”
Recording 11 RBIs in the 12-2 win, West tied four state recordsmost home runs in a game, most grand slams in a game, most consecutive home runs and most RBIs in a game.
“That is one of the best memories I’m always going to have of her,” Lively said.
But, for West, it was making it to the Class 3A state tournament for the fifth straight year that was her most memorable moment. The Lady Wildcats won the Calhoun County tournament, and finished fourth in the state.
“I couldn’t be more proud to play with who I’ve played with for the coaches that I’ve been under,” West said. “I hope they can keep it going through the years, but it’s a big deal to say that we went to state five times and actually won it one year. Not many people can say that.”
West will be back in the circle in the fall but for Jacksonville State this time.
“I just want to start off strong and not get down on myself,” she said. “I want to work out as hard as I can.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.