Flash Staff Report
STEPHENVILLE (July 10, 2017) — It’s no secret one of the scariest bats in UIL 4A softball the past two springs was being swung by Stephenville third baseman and all-around spring sports superstar Nadine Arredondo.
Just when you think the now-graduated slugger has won her last award, somebody presents her with another.
The latest tip of the hat comes from the Abilene Reporter-News. Arredondo was named Big Country Offensive Player of the Year by longtime award-winning Big Country sports reporter Evan Ren and others at the most circulated daily newspaper along Interstate 20 between Forth Wroth and El Paso.
The annual All-Big Country team, also including pitcher Julia Flores, outfielder Morgan DiCiccio and catcher Sami Shaffer of Stephenville, was published at 9 p.m. Saturday at reporternews.com.
Arredondo and Brownwood pitcher Cheyenne Ellett took the top honors Big Country honors, as Ellett was named “Staff Ace.” Flores and DiCiccio were each named “starters”, while Shaffer is a “backup.”
It was obvious Stephenville would boast a strong presence on the All-Big Country roster after is school-record 26 wins. It took the strongest of efforts from Ellett – 41 strikeouts and only three runs allowed in three games – to eliminate the Honeybees in the eighth inning of game three in the area round of the Region I-4A playoffs.
One year after capturing their first district championship, the Bees repeated that fete in 8-4A. They lose just two seniors inArredondo and Shaffer, but those are clearly big shoes to feel.
The only thing perplexing concerning Arredondo is her apparent invisibility to college recruiters. She still has no offers despite being named named honorable-mention All-American by National Fast Pitch News, first-team all-state by Texas Girls Coaches Association and 8-4A Offensive MVP by district head coaches.
Arredondo broke a pair of school records with 55 runs batted in and 14 home runs her senior year, giving her record career totals of 28 home runs and 118 RBI. She also scored 100 runs in four varsity seasons.
And that was just in softball. Arredondo reached state in powerlifting and track and field this spring. She qualified for state as the second-place discus thrower at the Region I-4A meet in Lubbock, where she was also third in the shot put.
Already the most decorated pitcher in the history of Stephenville softball, Flores still has another year to pad her resume.
As a junior, the 8-4A district pitcher of the year recorded 201 strikeouts with only 18 walks in 148 innings. She was 23-6 with a 1.80 earned run average, as opposing batters hit just .197.
With the exception of Arredondo, nobody helped Flores more from the plate than, well, Flores. She hit .483 with 46 RBIs, led the team with 13 doubles and hammered six home runs. Add two triples and you have 21 extra base hits from the year-round high school and select star with a high game IQ that helped her go 10-for-10 stealing bases.
Arredondo and Shaffer each lettered four years for head coach Rus Mayes, and Flores isn’t the only 2018 senior who will be able to say the same.
DiCiccio has been a varsity player since she stepped foot on the high school campus with a knack for slapping, the speed to turn any contact into danger for opposing defenses and blistering reaction time paired with a solid glove in centerfield.
DiCiccio led the Honeybees with four triples and also had five doubles as a junior. She hit .401, drove in 22 runs, scored another 22 and stole 20 bases.
In Shaffer, Tarleton State is picking up versatility and a sweet swing. She was 8-4A catcher of the year as a senior, despite missing the stretch run of the district campaign and both playoff series because of a broken arm suffered in a traffic accident. It was her lone season as the battery mate to Flores, as Shaffer excelled at short stop the prior two years and in the outfield as a freshman.
A letter of commitment from Shaffer is not the only Tarleton tie to the Reporter-News honors. Big Country Coach of the Year Heath Gibson, once an interim sports information director at Tarleton, guided Hermleigh to a regional championship and on to the 1A state final. In what will be remembered as one of the most action-packed games in UIL state tournament history, Hermleigh overcame a 9-0 deficit to win 20-19 in the eighth inning of a state semifinal against Dodd City.
During his time at Tarleton, Gibson handled statistics and media relations for two regional tournament softball teams. Stephenville head coach Rus Mayes was then the assistant coach and hitting coach for the TexAnns.