Aspen Wesley (MS Choctaw) wins 3rd straight softball POY award
Special to First Nation's Focus
CHICAGO — As part of its 33rd year honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade on June 4 announced Aspen Wesley (MS Choctaw) of Neshoba Central High School as its 2017-18 Gatorade Mississippi Softball Player of the Year.
Wesley is the second Gatorade Mississippi Softball Player of the Year to be chosen from Neshoba Central High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Wesley as Mississippi’s best high school softball player.
Wesley joins an elite alumni association of past state softball award-winners, including Catherine Osterman (2000-01, Cy Spring High School, Texas), Kelsey Stewart (2009-10, Arkansas City High School, Kan.), Carley Hoover (2012-13 D.W. Daniel High School, S.C.), Jenna Lilley (2012-13, Hoover High School, Ohio), Morgan Zerkle (2012-13 Cabell Midland High School, W. Va.) and Rachel Garcia (2014-15, Highland High School, Calif.).
The 5-foot-3 junior right-handed pitcher and outfielder — who had won the Gatorade Player of the Year honor the past two seasons — led the Rockets to a 34-0 record and a third straight Class 5A state championship this past season.
Wesley posted a 23-0 mark in the circle with a 0.24 ERA and 316 strikeouts in 143.1 innings pitched. At the plate, she produced a .421 batting average with 10 doubles, 32 RBI and a .610 slugging percentage.
A five-time First Team All-State selection, Wesley boasts a 109-4 record and 1,331 strikeouts in her prep softball career.
A member of her school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Wesley has volunteered locally as a youth softball coach. She has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom and has made a verbal commitment to play softball on scholarship at Mississippi State University beginning in the fall of 2019.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.
Wesley joins recent Gatorade Mississippi Softball Players of the Year Hailey Lunderman (2014-15, Neshoba Central High School), Darby Bishop (2013-14, Newton County High School), Rachel Hickman (2012-13, Poplarville High School), Kelly Young (2011-12, Madison Central High School), Emily Davis (2010-11, Newton County High School), Londen Ladner (2009-10 and 2008-09, Northwest Rankin High School) and Whitney Kiihnl (2007–08 and 2006-07, South Panola High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
On Oct. 15, Hung A Lel Ti Chairman Irvin Jim Jr. spoke at the dedication of a five-mile stretch of Highway 88 from the California state line in Alpine County to veterans of the Vietnam War.