Throughout his high school athletic career, Taylor Hayes has been the catalyst of so many memorable moments at Piedmont High School.
It's only fitting he ends his career with one more honor.
The Alabama Sports Writers Association recently selected Hayes as their Class 3A Baseball Player of the Year. Hayes, who pitched, played first base and center field this season, also earned a spot on the Class 3A First Team at Utility.
"He sets the bar high for his teammates and is the greatest leader that I have coached in 14 years," notes Piedmont head coach Matt Deerman, who led Piedmont to a state runner-up finish in his first season as the Bulldog skipper. "When he is on the mound, there is never a doubt in anyone's mind that his team will win. Taylor wants the ball in his hand in pressure situations and always gives you his best."
Hayes, who has signed to play quarterback in football at Jacksonville State, went 10-5 with a save and a 1.76 ERA on the mound this season. He also struck out 132 batters.
Speaking of batting, Hayes compiled a .461 average at the plate with 16 doubles, three home runs, a triple, 21 walks, 13 stolen bases, 43 runs scored and 31 RBIs.
Hayes is one of three Bulldogs (27-14) who earned all-state honors, and is one of 15 area athletes to garner all-state baseball recognition. Fellow senior Easton Kirk claimed the first-team catcher spot, while junior Taylor Morrow made second-team at shortstop.
Kirk batted .467 with 17 doubles, 13 home runs, a pair of triples, 26 walks, 26 runs and 42 RBIs. Morrow managed a .347 average with 11 doubles, six home runs, 17 walks, 35 runs and 41 RBIs.
The Cherokee County Warriors (25-10) had the most all-state selections from the area with five (3 first team, 2 second team).
On the Class 4A All-State First Team are senior second baseman Jaren Lockridge, senior shortstop Colin Edwards and senior designated hitter Colin Brewer. Second-team honors went to junior pitcher Noah Ledbetter and junior catcher Jy Lockridge.
Jaren Lockridge batted .514 with 10 doubles, three home runs, three triples, 12 walks, 42 runs and 38 RBIs. Edwards batted .487 with 13 doubles, two triples, 13 walks, 11 stolen bases, 49 runs and 31 RBIs. Brewer batted .412 with seven home runs, five doubles, two triples, 18 walks, 25 runs and 31 RBIs.
Ledbetter went 9-3 on the mound with 56 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA. Jy Lockridge finished the season batting .427 with 14 doubles, two home runs, a triple, 18 walks, 13 hit-by-pitches, 11 runs and 39 RBIs.
Class 1A schools Cedar Bluff (19-14), Spring Garden (20-8) and Gaylesville (15-10) each had a player to earn second-team recognition.
Cedar Bluff junior outfielder/pitcher Keaton Kilgro came away with a spot at utility. He batted .420 with eight doubles, three triples, a home run, nine walks, 20 runs and 27 RBIs. Kilgro was also 9-3 on the mound with 86 strikeouts and a 3.53 ERA.
Spring Garden senior Dawson Broome claimed a spot on the Class 1A second team at first base. Broome batted .476 with seven doubles, six home runs, six triples, 16 walks, 29 runs and 37 RBIs.
Gaylesville sophomore Brayden Stordahl claimed a second-team designated hitter spot. He batted .500 with 13 doubles, a triple, a home run, nine walks, nine stolen bases, 38 runs and 24 RBIs.
Cedar Bluff and Gaylesville also had two honorable mention players apiece. Tiger sophomore catcher Ross Johnson and sophomore first baseman Ethan Teague earned recognition at their respective positions. Johnson batted .393 with nine doubles, six home runs, a pair of triples, 17 walks, 16 hit-by-pitches, 12 runs and 29 RBIs. Teague tallied a .382 average seven doubles, two home runs, 13 walks, 18 runs and 25 RBIs.
Gaylesville senior shortstop Austin Stordahl and senior pitcher/infielder Brandon Crane also earned honorable mention recognition. Austin Stordahl batted .575 with 10 doubles, three triples, a home run, nine walks, nine stolen bases, eight hit-by-pitches, 37 runs and 34 RBIs. Crane, who earned honorable mention at utility, went 2-2 with a save and a 2.94 ERA on the mound. He also batted .460 with nine doubles, two home runs, eight walks, 29 runs and 33 RBIs.
The complete ASWA All-State Baseball Teams list can be found at www.northwestgeorgianews.com/cherokee_county.