But it wasn’t her stats that garnered the extra attention. Her 15-1 record in the circle and 2.13 ERA as a senior are on par with her performance in past seasons, as is her .467 batting average with 29 extra base hits and 55 RBIs.
According to Luke, what tested her mettle as a player this season was the competition the team faced, which the coach said was the strongest they’ve come across during Loveless’ time on the team.
“You look at the teams we played. We beat some big teams this year,” Luke said. “And for her to handle that pressure of always having to go out and win, for me, that’s successful — for her to accomplish those numbers while facing that kind of competition.”
After staying consistent through those challenges, Loveless has been named the 2018 Rome News-Tribune All-Area Softball Player of the Year, an honor she’s earned at least a share of for three consecutive seasons.
“She’s an amazing player,” Luke said. “She’s got a work ethic as good as anybody’s. She is well-deserving of these types of awards. She’s by far the best player in our area, and she’s been consistent for the last four years.”
Loveless helped the Lady Jackets emerge as the top seed out of Region 7-AA and finish with a 26-4 record while picking up wins over Calhoun, which advanced to the Class 3A state tournament, and Harrison, which went on to win the Class 6A state title.
Banks County, which defeated the Lady Jackets in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs, went on to finish as state runners-up.
“It speaks volumes of her numbers,” Luke said. “We probably played the hardest schedule we’ve played in the history of our program, and on top of that being ranked No. 1 for almost two years — it’s so much pressure for any player to deal with.”
Loveless finished the season with 42 hits, 43 runs scored and 13 stolen bases, while striking out only nine times. Her 13 home runs and 55 RBIs set school records and she recorded 58 strikeouts in 82 innings pitched while walking just 18 batters.
The senior helped Rockmart make three straight state playoff appearances, including winning its first-ever state championship last season, and plans to sign with Reinhardt University next week to continue her softball career.
Loveless leads a group of strong area players that put up stellar numbers this season. Teammate Cambree Stanley continued her success as Rockmart’s leadoff hitter and is a first-team RN-T All-Area selection for the fourth year in a row. The West Georgia commit had 53 hits, two home runs, 27 RBIs, 51 runs scored and 48 stolen bases, and owns school records in stolen bases (65), hits (75), runs (70) and triples (12).
“She’s had an amazing career,” Luke said. “She’s basically what made us go. She’s a special player, and will be a huge loss for our program.”
Another Region 7-AA standout who is a first-team selection is Pepperell senior Maddie Clay, who helped lead the Lady Dragons to the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.
The Georgia State signee led her team in RBIs (46), hits (38), runs (43), and only struck out once in 93 plate appearances. She had a .481 batting average with 14 singles, 12 doubles, seven triples and five home runs.
Whitney Shepherd led Trion’s Lady Bulldogs to the deepest spot in the playoffs of any area team. The junior pitcher struck out 127 over 20 wins in a season that saw Trion finish third in the Class A Public state tournament. Shepherd finished the year with three no-hitters and one perfect game, and a 1.00 ERA.
2018 ROME NEWS-TRIBUNE ALL-AREA SOFTBALL TEAM
Coach of the Year
Jeff Rickman, Pepperell
Name School Grade
Shelby Carlock Trion Jr.
Maddie Clay Pepperell Sr.
Sydnie Edwards Pepperell Sr.
Emily Loveless* Rockmart Sr.
Sydney Marshall Chattooga Sr.
Jacie Martin Chattooga Jr.
Maycy Owens Pepperell Sr.
Alexas Poole Cedartown Soph.
Sydney Seymour Darlington Sr.
Whitney Shepherd Trion Jr.
Cambree Stanley Rockmart Sr.
Alexis Teems Rockmart Soph.
*Player of the Year
Name School Grade
Olivia Adams Darlington Jr.
Maci Andrews Rome Fr.
Gracie Burns Trion Jr.
Bailey Coker Trion Jr.
Caroline Conring Rockmart Jr.
Caroline Dingler Darlington Jr.
Carlee Graham Rockmart Jr.
Kinsey Jones Rockmart Jr.
Josie McGraw Pepperell Sr.
Dahlia Sanford Pepperell Jr.
Lainey Simms Coosa Sr.
Emma White Chattooga Soph.
ARMUCHEE: Aleigha Allmon, Harlie Lewis; CEDARTOWN: Tamera Beeman, Marycille Brumby, Kaylee Nikolopoulus; CHATTOOGA: Hannah Thrasher, Gracelyn Veitch, Katie Willams, Clara Wyatt; COOSA: Aniston Parris; PEPPERELL: Chloe Jones; ROCKMART: Emma Evans, Anna Lewis, Emilee Maulding, Emilee Register. ROME: Cassie Covington, Abi Curry, Madison Ingram, McKenzie McNitt.