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Arkansas' best high school softball players: Meet the state's top catchers

Some of the top catchers in Arkansas prep softball

By Kyle Sutherland I Photo by Rick Nation

With the high school softball season in full swing, SBLive is looking at the best softball players in Arkansas. Today, we feature the top catchers across all classifications. A true field general is one of the most important pieces of championship teams. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great catchers statewide. These are players we have seen along with recommendations from coaches. Let us know about any players you think should be added! 

Brooklyn Adams | Mansfield | JR

Adams moved to her natural position this season after playing third last year, but “she would be able to play anywhere” Mansfield head coach Donnie Eveld said. She bats second in the lineup and had an fielding percentage of .979 last season while batting .515.

Kynsli Brashears | Magnet Cove | SO

Brashears excels both behind the plate as well as in the circle and has taken a dual role this season due to a teammate’s injury after not pitching last season. She is batting .400 this year with a .500 on base percentage. She also threw a perfect game against Mountain Pine on March 28.

Ashlynn “Bullet” Walker | Arkansas High | JR

Walkwr did not play catcher until this year when Lady Razorbacks head coach Kaylee Dalby told her in August she needed to start practicing and the rest is history. She is the leadoff batter, has already eclipsed double-digit stolen bases, and Dalby describes her as a “true leader.”

“She is one of those kids you want to have on your team and your side,” Dalby said. “My younger kids really look up to her. She is one who will take [all] the coaching-good, bad, and ugly.”

Ella Blakeley | CAC | SO

Batting over .600 in both leadoff and out of the three spot this season, Blakeley is “a great contact hitter and smart on the bases,” CAC head coach Lynn Brown said. As a leader behind the plate, she possesses high IQ with a strong arm and holds runners on base.

Grace Boatright | Farmington | SR

The Oklahoma Baptist signee has been doing big things for the Lady Cardinals since ninth grade when she set the single season record for home runs by a freshman. She is one of two senior leaders on the roster who bring power to the batting lineup. As a junior, she had a .522 batting average with 13 home runs and 50 runs batted in.

Callie Cooper | Pea Ridge | SO

Cooper started every game behind the plate last season as a freshman on the Lady Blackhawks’ state runner-up squad. When not playing catcher, she also plays third and has already been getting plenty of college looks just as a sophomore.

Steph Crittenden | Bentonville West | FR

Crittenden has yet to scratch the surface, but the sky's the limit for her possessing “phenomenal instincts for a freshman” Lady Wolverines head coach Anthony Cantrell said.

“Physically, great arm and superb blocking,” Cantrell added. “Receives the ball really well.”

Regan “Buddha” Dillon | Bryant | SR

The SAU signee hits third in the lineup and has batted over .500 in her senior season possessing great power and “sprays it all over the field,” her head coach Lisa Dreher said.

“She seems to sense what the offense is going to do before they do it,” Dreher said. “She’s able to work with what is working and not working for our pitchers and keep the hitters off balance.”

Hana Dingman | Fort Smith Southside | SR

The Baker University signee bats in the third and brings a lot of power both with her bat and arm, along with plenty of experience. She also has an extremely high IQ not just on the field, but in the classroom with a 4.2 GPA.

“Hana has really matured in the last year,” head coach Mark Reichart said. “I expect big things from her.”

Christin Flory | Atkins | JR

As Atkins’ leadoff hitter, Flory has batted over .440 with a .556 on base percentage in her junior season and has scored an average of 1.27 runs per game.

“She is an unreal catcher with great framing and blocking ability as well as an exceptional arm” Atkins head coach Matt Porter said.

Maci Henderson | Baptist Prep | SR

Henderson has assumed duties behind the plate since her freshman year and returns for one final season with hopes of earning another state title. Her single in the fifth frame of last year’s championship game was part of a four-run inning that fueled a 9-1 win over Hoxie. She is one of four seniors who of course brings lots of experience, but also a lot of power to the batting lineup.

Halen Hoelzeman | Sacred Heart | SR

Hoelzeman is committed to play at Cottey (Mo.) College and has hit over .450 so far in her final high school season batting third in the lineup. The multi-sport athlete helped the Lady Knights to a state-championship runner-up finish last season.

“Halen can hit for power to all parts of the field,” Sacred Heart head coach Kyle Duvall said. “Another quality of hers is her arm strength.”

Jenna Jobe | Mt. Vernon-Enola | SO

Jobe received her first offer from Oklahoma Wesleyan last season as a freshman and has established herself as one of the best at her position as an underclassman. She bats in the third and has hit .571 with a .654 on base percentage through March.

“Jenna hits for average and power,” her head coach and father Jason Jobe said. “Smart catcher who controls the game.”

Emma King | Bauxite | FR

King has been described by some as quite possibly the best contact hitter in the state, not just for her age but overall. This season she has hit just shy of .500 with a .535 on base percentage. Defensively, she has only allowed one stolen base as of late March.

Madison Lindsey | Taylor | SO

Lindsey may not be very tall but is a “slab of muscle” per an assistant coach and what she lacks in size she makes up with in power along with being a tireless worker. She has batted .400 this year and is great at framing pitches. Lindsey has four brothers, including her twin, who have all been catchers for the Taylor baseball team.

Reese McKinnon | Smackover | SR

The majority of Smackover’s lineup bats for power and McKinnon, who hits fifth, is no exception and is described by Smackover head coach Dennis Steele as a team leader who will play wherever she is needed. Opponents know not to try and steal on her as evidenced by only a handful of attempts this year.

“Her experience, leadership, and receiving skills at catcher have made her one of the most valuable players on the team,” Smackover assistant coach David Preston said.

Alexcia Middleton | Huntsville | SR

Middleton is as competitive as they come, so much so that one of her coaches mentioned “You wish you could have nine of her.” She will play at the next level for University of Arkansas-Rich Mountain.

Gracie Redmon | Benton | SR

Redmon is known for coming through at the plate in big situations and is patient at the plate finding ways to get on base. She controls the game and wins strikes for the pitching staff. She also plays third when not behind the plate.

“Gracie could possibly be the best skill set behind the plate I have ever seen,” Benton head coach Heidi Cox said.

Gracie Smith | Tuckerman | SO

Smith moved from shortstop to catcher this year and is the top hitter on the roster. In her junior season she batted .521 with 49 runs batted in and this season she has batted over .300 and has hit the double-digit mark in RBI. She also has the best arm on Tuckerman’s roster which is another strong point in her development behind the plate.

Ellen Spigner | Nashville | SR

Opposing coaches and players are fully aware of Spigner’s ability behind the plate and it is a slim to none chance you will see a player take a chance at stealing on her watch. The Arkansas Tech signee is also consistent at the plate batting leadoff and has hit over .400 so far this year.

Lauren Spoon | Stuttgart | JR

Spoon is very smart behind the plate, and very patient while at it, batting cleanup for the Lady Ricebirds. She is described by one assistant coach Logan Prince as “the quarterback of the diamond” and has a cannon for an arm.

Hannah Stallings | Greene County Tech | SR

The Williams Baptist signee is very mobile for her position and is a gap-to-gap hitter with plenty of power batting seventh. Defensively, she handles pitches well and is a great blocker/receiver.

Sophia Wahrmund | Morrilton | SO

After missing her freshman year with a broken arm, Wahrmund has come on strong offensively, batting out of both leadoff and second hitting over .400. She has also been excellent behind the plate with a perfect 1.000 (at the spring break mark) fielding percentage.

Bailey Wain | Johnson County Westside | JR

Wain led J.C. Westside in home runs and doubles last season as a sophomore and defensively threw out 15 runners attempting to steal. She is a great contact hitter batting second and providing plenty of power. Her speed is another key aspect of her game possessing the “ability to stretch a double into a triple,” per Westside head coach Nick Bartmier.

“Bailey knows the game well,” Bartmier said. “She directs traffic defensively.”

Sara Watson | Bentonville | JR

Described by head coach Kent Early as essentially being a coach on the field and as cliché as it sounds, Watson has all the tools. A fearless competitor and very tough, along with possessing great versatility particularly for a catcher. Offensively, she bats third.

Sara White | Hackett | SR

White is one of three seniors on an impressive Lady Hornets roster who displays great leadership, defensive prowess, and plenty of experience behind the plate. She is an RBI whiz at the plate and bats in the fifth.

Madison Wolfenbarger | Rector | JR

Rector head coach Chris Richardson describes Wolfenbarger as the “spark of the lineup” batting second. Through March, she hit .667 with an on base percentage of .690. She also had 18 hits, 7 runs batted in, 18 runs scored, and a perfect 12/12 on stolen bases. Defensively she is also very reliable with a .982 fielding percentage.