Sumiton Christian's Sides earns top honor

Eagles' star named Gatorade Player of Year

Sumiton Christian’s Kendall Beth Sides was already one of the top players in Alabama going into her senior softball season. This year, she took her game to the next level. One year after being named the Class 2A Player of the Year, Sides put together one of the best seasons in state softball history, seeing her numbers improve across the board. Sides picked up her first postseason award Monday when she was named the 2017 Gatorade Alabama Softball Player of the Year. The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. She is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award announced later this month. Sides is the second consecutive local player to earn the award. Curry’s Ashlee Swindle won last year.

The 5-foot-7 Sides led the Eagles to their third straight state championship last month. Sides compiled a .606 batting average with 18 doubles, 13 triples, 13 home runs, 85 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 99 stolen bases. She has an on-base percentage of .652. The Eagles finished the season 57-9. The state record-holder for career runs and stolen bases, Sides is a four-time All-State selection and a three-time Super All-State honoree. Sides is also a two-time MaxPreps All-American and is ranked as the nation’s No. 27 recruit in the Class of 2017 by FloSoftball. Sides has volunteered locally on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, Operation Shoebox and canned food drives. Sides has maintained a 3.84 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at the University of Alabama this fall. Sides joins recent Gatorade Alabama Softball Players of the Year Ashlee Swindle (2015-16, Curry High School), Lacey Sumerlin (2014-15, Baker High School), Holly Ward (2013-14, Haleyville High School), Kasey Cooper (2012-13, Dothan High School), Haylie McCleney (2011-12, Mortimer Jordan High School), Shelby Holley (2010-11, Pisgah High School), Leigh Streetman (2009-10, Hueytown High School), Heather Parker (2008-09, Mortimer Jordan High School), Lindsey Dunlap (2007–08, Hueytown High School), and Meghan Harbuck (2006-07, Baker High School) among the state’s list of former award winners. — Johnathan Bentley contributed to this story