Payton and Sinders earn All-State softball recognition
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
A pair of Clay County softball players have been recognized by the Indiana Coaches of Girls’ Sports Association (ICGSA) following their senior campaigns.
Northview’s Stacy Payton received a First Team nod in the Class 3A/4A category while Clay City’s Harley Sinders is on the Third Team for Class 1A/2A.
Payton was one of 25 players that received First Team honors in Class 3A/4A. Understandably, Northview head coach Kathy Vossmer was excited that Payton was recognized in such a way following her final prep season with the Knights.
“I am ecstatic! Stacy is so deserving of this award and she is finally being recognized. I told the District that I was thankful she received Third Team last year, however, also told them that Stacy was deserving of much more,” Vossmer commented. “Stacy is an excellent ball player. She is a talented athlete who has really made her name known both in softball and basketball throughout the state, yet she remains humble and continues to practice mastering her skills. She earned this recognition.”
Sinders shares those same traits with Payton as she overcame knee surgery at the beginning of her final basketball season to compete on the softball diamond for the Eels. Sinders was also the 2017 recipient of the prestigious “C. Eugene Cato Memorial Scholarship Award by the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). She will receive $2,500 for her high school accomplishments. The Centennial Scholarship program was initiated in 2003-04 as a part of the IHSAA’s centennial celebration. Sinders will continue her academic career at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the fall.
Both athletes have shared in plenty of success in the classroom as well.
Payton was recently named to the All-Western Indiana Conference Academic squad while student/athletes nominated for the “C. Eugene Cato Memorial Scholarship Award that Sinders received this spring must have at least a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
Payton was a dominant force both at the plate and behind it during her four-year career with the Knights. The senior catcher hit .633 this season with 20 RBI and 16 extra base hits. Payton scored 32 runs and drew 31 walks, which aided in her on-base percentage of .761.
“Stacy has a presence when she approaches the plate. She’s 6’0” of muscle, power and game smarts. No one wants to pitch to that. As a freshman, Stacy was part of our program that was having a rough year. She would come to the plate with so much determination to ‘fix’ things, that her pitch selection was not always what it should have been,” Vossmer noted. “As she settled, matured, and began to jump on ‘her pitch’ more consistently, it became apparent that Stacy was going to make things happen.”
And indeed things did happen as Payton helped lead the Knights back above the .500 mark with a 14-12 record this year. The threat of her power was the driving force in teams walking her 31 times this season and 33 times during her junior season.
“Teams simply started walking her to avoid the probable outcome in giving her a good pitch,” Vossmer pointed out. “Add to her athletic ability that she is determined, dedicated, hard working, humble in her achievements, and an excellent student. She is the complete package deal that any coach is looking for, not just at the Division I level.”
Payton will be taking her talents to Ball State University next season to compete for the Cardinals’ softball program.
“Stacy Payton has been a pleasure to coach. She has stuck with this program through the highs and lows. She never gave up on herself, her teammates, or her coaches,” Vossmer said. “Players like Stacy Payton are few. She is a true gem and replacing the type of player/person she is will be extremely difficult. She is going to do great things within and beyond the game of softball.”
While Sinders will not continue her softball career at IUPUI next season. Her mark has been left while competing for the Eels.
The recently graduated Eel played catcher throughout the majority of her four years at Clay City before stepping out from behind the plate most of this season to reduce the stress on her knee. However, it didn’t slow her production at the plate as Sinders hit .348 at the top of the Eels’ lineup. Sinders also reached base on over 40-percent of her 75 plate appearances. She also helped lead the program to a regional championship her freshman year as Clay City reached the semi-state championship game before falling 3-1 to North Daviess. She was one of just four Eels to get a hit in the contest for the Eels.