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More local athletes make state all-star teams

Three local athletes were selected to the North-South all-star spring sports squads; however, these student-athletes will not get to compete in the annual All-Star Sports Week events this year because of COVID-19.

Phil Campbell pitcher Ridge Raper was selected to the North baseball team. Belgreen pitcher/fielder Emma Dempsey and Red Bay Lila Blackburn were selected to the North softball team.

As a pitcher, Raper has a record of 17-2 with 1.74 earned run average. He has a career batting average of .362 and a slugging percentage of .463.

“It’s a great honor and means a lot to me to be chosen for the allstar game,” said Raper. “I would have loved to have finished our season and see what all we would have accomplished as a team. I really believe that this year’s team was one of the best teams we’ve ever had at Phil Campbell. We just work hard all the time, and that leads to a lot of good things.

“I made the all-star team as a pitcher, and one of the major reasons is because our defense is so good; we just make plays and don’t beat ourselves. As a pitcher, that helps a lot.”

Raper also expressed a sentiment hundreds of other athletes are likely feeling in this new era.

“Not being able to participate in this year’s AllStar game hurts,” Raper said, “because a lot of kids have worked really hard to play in this game and have the opportunity to play in front of people and to help them get recognized.”

Dempsey, in 13 games, batted .393 with an on-base percentage of .452. She also excels as a pitcher.

“Being selected to the allstar softball team means a lot to me,” said Dempsey. “There’s nothing I love more than playing softball. It’s sad the games won’t be able to be played this year because I’m sure it would have been a ton of fun, but it’s still an honor to be selected.

Dempsey earns the distinction of being selected to two different teams in one year – basketball and softball. “Being selected to two allstar teams is a blessing,” she said. “I’m so thankful God has blessed me with the ability to play two sports I love!”

Blackburn, a pitcher and infielder, was selected as a pitcher. Coach Shane Nichols said she has good speed and is able to hit her zones.

“It is an amazing honor to be selected for the All-Star team,” said Blackburn. “It means a lot to me because I’ve worked so hard to get to the level that I am at. I hate that we’re not able to participate this year. I think it would have been very fun.