Five Warlassies named all-state, Jaiden Tweed WNC Pitcher of the Year

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It’s been more than two months since the softball season ended for the Owen Warlassies. But recognition continues to roll in for the team that finished the season 14-4 and second in the Western Highlands Conference.

Five players from the Warlasses received all-state honors from the N.C. Softball Coaches Association, which released the news after the 2017 Powerade State Games of North Carolina in Greensboro June 20-21.

Three of the five players will be returning to the team next year for their senior season.

Juniors Caitlyn Ledford (second base), Ashley Valencia (catcher) and Jaiden Tweed (pitcher) earned the distinction following a season in which the trio was among the team leaders in most major offensive categories. Tweed led the Warlassies with a .541 batting average, 28 RBIs and seven home runs through the 2017 season. Valencia was the only other player on the team to finish at or above the .500 mark. She was second on the team in RBIs (25) and home runs (3).

The all-state designation was the second for Ledford and Tweed in as many years.

Anissa Avila (center field) and Natalie Stewart (first base), who graduated from Owen in June, also earned the honor to conclude their high school softball careers. Avila will continue her softball career at East Tennessee State University.

Tweed, who committed to play college softball for Presbyterian College following her freshman season when she struck out 201 batters, was also selected as a member of the All-WNC team by The Asheville Citizen-Times. She was also the Western Highlands Conference Pitcher of the Year for the 2017 season.

Avila and Valencia were named to the All-WNC second team. Ledford, Stewart, Chesney Gardner, Bria Crompton and Ari Pridmore received honorable mentions.

The Warhorse baseball team also earned recognition in the region. Owen graduate Brian Bartlett, who committed to play baseball for Montreat College in  June, was named the utility player for the Citizen-Times' 2017 All-WNC team.

Bartlett, who pitched and played shortstop for the Warhorses as a senior, was named the WHC Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year. On the mound he was 3-2 with a 1.98 earned-run average, striking out 50 batters in 35.1 innings pitched. He posted a .909 fielding percentage for the season.

Offensively Bartlett enjoyed the best season of his baseball career. He batted .509 and drove in 19 runs to go along with eight doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs.

Bartlett's teammates Thomas Neal, Chance Simpson, Jake Roseman and Kobe Bartlett, who helped lead the Warhorses to an 11-9 record in 2017, received honorable mentions for the All-WNC squad.

The Warhorses started the season 0-3 but won seven of their final 10 games, finishing second in the conference (9-3). The team qualified for the state playoffs for the 17th straight season under head coach Anthony Lee.

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