Just another nod in the long list of individual accolades for the trio of seniors.
However, this year’s postseason awards are put in perspective by the AHSAA Class 6A state title the Yellow Jackets captured with a 2-1 series win against Fairhope in the finals last month.
For Goodson, one is clearly different from the other.
“Winning a state championship trumps anything I could ever do (individually),” he said.
But for Simpson, while different, they go together like peas and carrots.
“Winning an award without winning a state title would’ve been an honor in and of itself,” Simpson said, “but to get these awards after winning it is the best of both worlds.”
Leading up to their state title, all signed with Southeastern Conference schools. And last year, Goodson an Alabama signee, was named the Class 6A Hitter of the Year. Simpson was one of 46 players in the nation chosen to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic last August.
Stephens was chosen by the Cinncinati Reds in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft this past week.
Simpson, a University of Florida signee, took home the biggest honor of them all this year, being named the Class 6A Pitcher of the Year. His 9-3 mark included a no-hitter against Gadsden City in the regular season and a perfect game against Hewitt-Trussville to spark Oxford’s first-round sweep of the Huskies.
All total, Simpson logged 143 strikeouts, tops among all pitchers nominated for all-state recognition. He gave up 22 runs, 16 earned, on 42 hits in 83.6 innings.
“My offseason conditioning really gave me a good start,” Simpson said. “My biggest thing is staying healthy. That’s what led me to this point.”
Stephens was 14-1 as a starter on the mound. He struck out 117 in 84 innings and allowed nine earned runs for a 0.96 ERA. Despite those numbers, he was chosen to the all-state as a third baseman after putting up hitting statistics which included five home runs and 40 RBIs.
Goodson, a powerful outfielder, led Oxford offensively, batting an even .400 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs on 62 hits, all-team bests. He was selected to the all-state team as a desginated hitter.
While Piedmont fell two wins short of a state title, recognition of the feat came in spots on the Class 3A team. Pitcher Joel Ray was a first-team selection.
Ray went 13-3 for the Bulldogs who advanced all the way to the state championship where they fell to Trinity. He totaled 106 strikeouts in 62 innings with a 1.87 ERA.
Shortstop Cade Bradley, catcher Landon Pruitt and outfielder Trevor Ford all represented the Bulldogs as honorable mentions.
“My fastball went from 81 m.p.h. to 87 m.p.h. I don’t know what happened. It just went up,” said Ray, who said he could sign with Southern Union Community College sometime later this week. “My curveball is coming along too. It’s going from 12 to six instead of 11 to five.”