There’s healthy respect, and then there’s flat-out fear.

Plenty of softball hitters in the Central Texas area earned the former, but none elicited the latter quite like Bruceville-Eddy’s Shelby Friudenberg.

The senior’s at-bats often involved her standing and watching four pitches purposely sail well wide of the plate and her walking down to first base. Friudenberg walked 52 times in all – with 47 of them coming in intentional fashion.

It’s really her own fault, though. When she actually got a chance to hit, her eyes lit up and so did the scoreboard.

Friudenberg hit .771 with a career high-tying 17 home runs and drove in 61 runs. If that weren’t enough, she also added 16 doubles, eight triples and 14 stolen bases while going 13-2 with 101 strikeouts in the circle.

Her devastating power and impressive versatility made Friudenberg the District 21-2A co-MVP, and she’s the selection as this year’s Super Centex Player of the Year.

This is her fourth time being honored on the Super Centex team. She was the Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, and an easy first-team selection as a sophomore and junior.

Bruceville-Eddy coach Keith Johnson knew well before Friudenberg even reached middle school that he had a special talent coming his way.

“I saw Shelby at a camp in fourth grade, and she hit one off of our fence in fourth grade,” Johnson said. “I knew then she was going to be pretty special.”

As word of her ability to change a game with one swing of the bat spread, the number of pitches she got to hit dropped. She said it was “very frustrating” to not get the chance to hit, and sometimes had to be woken up when she did.

“I would just stand there, and people in the stands would be saying, ‘They’re pitching to you,’ and I would actually have to get ready,” Friudenberg. “I would be really nervous when I went up there and was actually being pitched to, because I felt like all the pressure was on me to actually do something. That’s why people were walking me, so I had to live up to it.”

She more than did that.

All of her hits and walks amounted to an unbelievable .871 on-base percentage, and her slugging percentage of 1.822 was staggering. She did it all while striking out one time all season.

Her power is no accident. It came from hours in the gym working out to build her body, and her sweet right-handed swing was perfected with year after year of work with her father, David, and playing select ball.

Friudenberg’s passion for the game began when she would go to her older sister Haley’s tournaments, and she learned early the importance of always striving to get better.

“Shelby was relentless as far as her work ethic,” Johnson said. “If she had time, she was working on her game. If she felt like she was lacking something, she was out there working on it. There were times I was leaving, and Shelby and her dad would ask if they could hit a couple rounds in the cage. . . . One day in practice we were doing a drill, and she messed it up a couple times. We were about to go to the next one, when she stopped me and said she wasn’t moving on until she got it right. She’s a perfectionist.”

Friudenberg’s personal success helped the Lady Eagles reach the playoffs in each of her four seasons. They didn’t win a district championship — thanks in large part to a juggernaut in Crawford that won two state titles over the four-year span — or get to the state tournament. But she’s proud of what Bruceville-Eddy was able to accomplish and enjoyed the camaraderie of her teammates.

She’ll continue to get that with a new group of teammates at Baylor next year, three of which come from that Crawford team that always got in the way of Bruceville-Eddy winning district crowns.

She’s looking forward to that next chapter and hopes she’ll finally find pitchers and coaches that aren’t afraid to challenge her, but she knows the transition from Class 2A high school to Division I college ball won’t be easy.

But Friudenberg plans to attack it head-on this summer, the same way she has approached the game her entire life.

“Practice, a lot,” Friudenberg said. “Work out, a lot. Just do everything I can to be ready.”

Coach of the year: Will Curtis, Vanguard

A mere four years ago, Vanguard didn’t win a game on the softball diamond.

Even worse than that, the Lady Vikings couldn’t complete a game. They were run-ruled every time they took the field.

How things have changed.

This season, thanks to a two-run home run from Lexi Newman and tacking on another run in the 14th inning Vanguard pulled out a 7-6 win over Hallettsville Sacred Heart to bring home a TAPPS Class 1A/2A state championship — in undefeated fashion, no less.

It also brought things full circle for Will Curtis, who won a state championship in basketball when he was in high school in Alabama, and the win allowed him to duplicate the feat as the Lady Vikings’ coach.

For completing the 180-degree program, Curtis is the Super Centex Coach of the Year.

“First and foremost, that was the best game I’ve ever been part of,” Curtis said. “I’ve been part of many games in many different sports. The emotions were up and down. We were the visiting team, so we always had to stop them from scoring or they would have won. I’ve never felt such emotions.”

Newman and pitcher Chandler Smith were the battery that day and throughout the season, and the engine that made the team go.

But Curtis stressed that it was a complete team effort and not just the work of a couple outstanding players that made Vanguard an undefeated state champion.

“We would not have won state without (Chandler and Lexi),” Curtis said. “They made big play after big play, and were unbelievable in pitching and catching 21 innings in two days (at the state tournament). . . . But it was the culmination of great team play and team effort from everyone. Everybody believed in the team and did her role.”

Newcomer of the year: Katie Guffey, Reicher

Every great team needs a “fire starter,” that player who gets everything and everybody going.

For Reicher this year, that turned out to be a freshman.

But Katie Guffey was no ordinary high school rookie. She came to Reicher with confidence, and that proved to be justified as she helped the Lady Cougars win a TAPPS Class 4A state championship at the plate, on the bases and from her shortstop position.

Her ability to affect the game in so many ways helped make Guffey a first-team all-state selection and the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year.

“She was really important, and she was our fire starter,” Reicher coach Andrea Holdbrook said. “She has a really big personality, so being in the shortstop position, that was really important. She’s obviously skilled at her position, but she had a leadership role as a freshman. She just has a commanding presence.”

Guffey hit .388 with 17 RBIs and eight extra-base hits, and her 17 stolen bases were also important to the Lady Cougars’ cause.

Holdbrook said many of the district’s coaches were shocked — and disappointed – to learn Guffey was only a freshman.

“She plays well beyond her years,” Holdbrook said. “She’s consistent in getting base, she can hit for power and can go the opposite field, go with the pitch. She has incredible hands. They’re really quick, and her baserunning is excellent. She gets a good jump and has good timing. . . . I’m really proud of the way she came out and established herself in the district and even the area.”

*****

2014 SUPER CENTEX SOFTBALL TEAM

First Team

Pos Player Cl. Avg. Note School

C Sydney Christensen Sr. .547 16 HRs Crawford

IF Morgan Groppe Sr. .461 53 RBIs Crawford

IF Maddison Kettler So. .647 22 2Bs West

IF Tori Phillips Sr. .492 52 runs Crawford

IF Kate Saucke Sr. .547 48 RBIs Hubbard

DH Shelby Friudenberg Sr. .771 17 HRs B-Eddy

UT Ashley Hoehn Sr. .656 19 2Bs B-Eddy

UT Lexi Newman So. .767 42 RBIs Vanguard

OF Nakaila Banks Sr. .509 54 hits Hubbard

OF Haley Boyett Sr. .500 52 hits Robinson

OF Jessica Tomchesson Sr. .664 67 runs Crawford

Pos Player Cl. Wins ERA School

P Carrigan Chambers Sr. 20 1.04 Crawford

P Olivia Curtis Sr. 25 1.59 Hubbard

P Kayla Donaldson Sr. 22 1.58 Lorena

P Callee Guffey Sr. 19 0.75 Reicher

P Chandler Smith Jr. 16 0.31 Vanguard

P Lexi Smith Sr. 11 1.25 Temple

Player of the year: Shelby Friudenberg, Bruceville-Eddy

Newcomer of the year: Katie Guffey, Reicher

Coach of the year: Will Curtis, Vanguard

Second Team

Pos Player Cl. Avg. Note School

C Katlynn Kaminski Jr. .554 48 RBIs Teague

IF Samone Jennings So. .476 40 runs Bosqueville

IF Jennifer Prnka Sr. .510 53 hits West

IF Alexia Rowe Sr. .434 27 runs Midway

IF McKenzie Winkler Sr. .548 15 2Bs Gatesville

DH Marti Hanson Sr. .604 55 runs Clifton

UT Amy Anz Sr. .471 56 hits Hubbard

UT Ainsley Skopik Jr. .419 41 RBIs Midway

OF Kylee Benton Sr. .402 32 RBIs Reicher

OF Allison Cooper Sr. .388 26 SBs Midway

OF Karlee Kleibrink So. .454 41 RBIs Clifton

Pos Player Cl. Wins ERA School

P Emily Brewer Jr. 11 3.51 Clifton

P Korie Dutschmann Sr. 15 1.79 Crawford

P Lizzie Donaldson So. 15 1.73 Bosqueville

P Jae Moore So. 16 0.30 Frost

P Tiffany Scruggs So. 19 2.43 Teague

P Hannah Wolfe So. 22 1.39 Robinson

Honorable mention

Kailey Leighty and Katelyn Veteto, Bosqueville; Kennadi Strawser and Jordan Woosley, Clifton; Keona Dawkins and Kierra Gaither, Connally; Ashton Chambers and Cheyenne Lynch, Crawford; Hillaree Schwartz, Frost; Cheyenne Bell and Amber Fuchs, Lorena; Michaela Clark and Morgan Ling, Midway; Kelsey Childs and Klemson Lancaster, Reicher; McKenzie Dawson and Taylor Stephens, Robinson; Kimberlyn Longbotham, and Taylor Ward, Temple; Melina Martinez, University; Kelsey Hickok and Parry Thompson, Vanguard; Kelsey Knox and Haley Webre, West

*****

First-team profiles

SYDNEY CHRISTENSEN

Catcher

Sr, Crawford

2-way star hit 16 HRs, drove in 51, took down 60% of SB attempts

MORGAN GROPPE

Infielder

Sr, Crawford

State title game MVP hit .461 with 53 RBIs, 21 extra-base hits

MADDISON KETTLER

Infielder

So, West

Dominant hitter, base runner batted .647 with 88 hits, 22 doubles

TORI PHILLIPS

Infielder

Sr, Crawford

Moved from outfield to produce .492 season with 52 runs scored

SHELBY FRIUDENBERG

DH

Sr, Bruceville-Eddy

Player of Year ripped 17 home runs despite limited chances

KATE SAUCKE

Infielder

Sr, Hubbard

District MVP drove in 48 runs, didn’t make an error at 3B all season

ASHLEY HOEHN

Utility

Sr, Bruceville-Eddy

Hit .656 with 19 doubles, 11 homers; went 17-6 with 151 Ks as pitcher

LEXI NEWMAN

Utility

So, Vanguard

Home run in 14th inning of title game lifted team to crown

NAKAILA BANKS

Outfielder

Sr, Hubbard

Versatile offensive threat with .509 average, 57 runs scored

HALEY BOYETT

Outfielder

Sr, Robinson

Smacked out 52 hits, 4 home runs while hitting an even .500

JESSICA TOMCHESSON

Outfielder

Sr, Crawford

Leadoff hitter set table with 75 hits, 26 stolen bases

CARRIGAN CHAMBERS

Pitcher

Sr, Crawford

Posted 20-1 record, 1.04 ERA with 83 strikeouts for state champion

OLIVIA CURTIS

Pitcher

Sr, Hubbard

Carried team to 1st state tournament with 25-5 mark, 218 Ks

KAYLA D0NALDSON

Pitcher

Sr, Lorena

One of area’s top power pitchers fanned 240, had 22 wins

CALLEE GUFFEY

Pitcher

Sr, Reicher

All-state choice went 19-1 with 0.75 ERA for TAPPS 4A state champ

LEXI SMITH

Pitcher

Sr, Temple

8-5A MVP’s production of 1.25 ERA, 309 punch outs belied 11-11 mark

CHANDLER SMITH

Pitcher

Jr, Vanguard

Pitched each game in team’s undefeated season, fanned 165

KATIE GUFFEY

Newcomer

Fr, Reicher

Used speed to hit .388, steal 17 bases to help team win state

WILL CURTIS

Coach

Vanguard

Completed turnaround from winless to unbeaten in 4 years

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