It's hard enough to make the All-State team once, but to make it in consecutive years is a very special honor.
That's what Athens Bible catcher Cade Abernathy has experienced, as he was selected to the Class 1A All-State first team by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. It is the second consecutive year he was selected to the first team.
Abernathy, who recently graduated from ABS, had a .460 batting average with 14 doubles, five home runs and 36 RBIs. But it was his defensive ability as a catcher that really set him apart.
“Not many people attempted to steal on him because of the reputation he got as a sophomore,” Athens Bible baseball coach Bill Murrell said. “In the third round of the playoffs last year, Spring Garden's coach I think paid him the best compliment when he said Cade was even better than everything he had heard about him.”
Abernathy said being a strong defensive catcher is about hard work and attitude.
“I always took pride in my defense,” Abernathy said. “Anytime anybody got on base, if the ball was in the dirt, I was going to block it up. My mindset was the runner wasn't going to get an extra base because of me. I just had to keep everything in front of me.”
Murrell said Abernathy was also outstanding at calling pitches and working with the pitchers. That showed as two ABS pitchers were named to the All-State team. Senior Gage Johns was named second team and senior Matthew Usery was named honorable mention.
“We (coaches) used to call a lot of the pitches, but but we had enough confidence in him to let him do it,” Murrell said of Abernathy. “He's out there and knows what's going on, and the pitchers trust him. Very few times did they ever shake him off. He's a student of the game, and knows how it's supposed to be played.”
Johns performed well in his only season playing for Athens Bible after transferring from Athens High School. He had a 7-2 record with a 2.18 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings pitched. He also had a .450 batting average with 32 RBIs at the plate.
“It was just a huge blessing and a great way to end my senior season,” Johns said of his second team All-State selection. “My coaches and my dad helped me out a lot to be able to get to the point where I'm at.”
Johns also credited Abernathy for helping him through the season.
“Cade is a great catcher and he made us look better than what we are,” Johns said. “It helps out a lot having a catcher of his quality.”
The other local player to be honored was Ardmore's Hogan Whitt, who was selected honorable mention All-State in Class 5A.