Eaton is 1st-team All-American


WHEELERSBURG — Now this is one way to make your day better.

At least for Wheelersburg’s Macee Eaton anyway.

Eaton, on Thursday, admitted she was recovering from having her wisdom teeth extracted —so you can imagine how she was feeling.

But, one telephone call from Teresa Ruby probably made — almost immediately — any doldrums disappear.

That’s because the decorated and two-time state softball champion Eaton, already bound to play college softball for the University of Virginia, is officially a first-team All-American —announced on Thursday by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

In fact, the first baseman Eaton is now a three-time NFCA All-American —having made third team as a junior and second team as a sophomore.

There are an estimated 40 total All-Americans selected, but only 13 were first-teamers for the 2023 list —which does in fact span all 50 states.

They say 13 is a lucky number, but Eaton earned this accolade because she is that good.

She interviewed with The Portsmouth Daily Times via social media direct messages over the weekend, as she was en route to the University of Virginia for two days of university orientation.

She said it’s a goal she wrote down in her childhood days, and now has been accomplished at the highest level.

She was the only first baseman of the 13 selected, and one of two players from Ohio —the other being Covington shortstop Nigella Reck.

“It’s a huge honor being selected first team and something I’ve worked towards. When I was 12 years old, I started writing down my goals. One of my first goals was to be an All-American one day. So to be recognized three years in a row, it’s really cool,” explained Eaton. “I didn’t know much about the NFCA until I received third team my sophomore year. Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with third team so I got to work. I got closer my junior year with second team. So obviously getting first-team recognition is a great way to end my high school career. (Wheelersburg) Coach (Teresa) Ruby is an NFCA member and called me as soon as the results were posted. I was so happy but still recovering from my wisdom teeth. It definitely made my day better.”

Speaking of better, you’re hard-pressed to find a better individual career than that of the left-handed batting star.

Individually, Eaton —in garnering first team all-Ohio honors all three seasons —slugged 49 career home runs, including three in the Pirates’ five state tournament tilts.

She hit 14 as a sophomore, 15 as a senior, and sandwiched 20 in between as a junior —including her solo shot to dead straightaway center-field in the top of the seventh inning of the 2022 Division III state championship bout.

Keep in mind also that her freshman campaign was canceled by the Ohio High School Athletic Association because of the coronavirus threat.

Otherwise, and who knows, but she may have been a four-time All-American, a four-time state tournament participant, and a record-smasher for even more home run categories.

“Macee is a young lady with a great deal of talent who committed the time and energy to develop that talent into something special. She has not only performed at a high level on the field but has been model teammate,” said Ruby, the highly-successful Wheelersburg coach of the past decade. “Macee has left a legacy not only at Wheelersburg High School but throughout our area that will not be forgotten.”

Eaton was asked about all her individual honors, but was quite quick —as she has consistently been in media interviews all throughout her career —to credit her Pirate teammates and coaches.

“Individual recognition is great and I appreciate the recognition, but I know that I cannot accomplish any of that without my teammates and coaches. The bad part about it is that a lot of my teammates deserve recognition too,” said Eaton.

Eaton is elated, though, that her All-American awards correlate well with such success the Pirates have experienced as a team.

In 2022, Wheelersburg won its first three bouts, then lost to Division I Teays Valley 10-5.

It didn’t lose again, finishing 27-1 —before going a perfect 32-0 and another Division III state title in 2023.

For those into counting, that’s 56 consecutive victories for one softball squad —its last postseason loss being the Division III state semifinal from 2021, to eventual state champion Fairview.

The four-Pirate senior class —of which only Eaton and centerfielder Kiera Kennard were three-year starters —went a jaw-dropping 85-3.

This past season, their rock-solid defense —behind standout pitchers AndiJo Howard (left-hander) and Kaylynn Carter (right-hander) —didn’t even allow 50 total runs, as opponents only totaled 44.

Only two games, 7-6 against visiting Northwest and 7-5 against neutral-site Bullit East (Ky.), were within two runs —and the Pirates’ 9-6 Southeast District championship triumph over Wellston was their closest competition in sectional, district AND regional competition since 2019.

They pitched 18 shutouts of their 32 wins.

The 59 victories over two springs all added up to two Division III state championships.

“What makes the state titles great is that all my teammates get to be celebrated for those championships,” added Eaton. “And we will be remembered for those championships forever.”

Just as Eaton always will be remembered for being an All-American three times over —and the coveted first team as a senior.

Ruby revealed the NFCA selection process for being chosen an All-American.

A player must be nominated by the head coach, and the head coach and school must be NFCA members.

To be nominated, the player must have played in 50-percent of the school’s contests — and 60-percent at the position she is nominated for.

Nominating coaches must participate in the All-Region voting, but are not permitted to vote for his or her own players.

The total number of voting coaches must exceed 60-percent of the number of nominating institutions in the region for a quorum to be reached, and first-team and second-team All-Region selections are eligible for consideration at the All-American level.

The actual All-American teams are selected by the High School membership — through a vote facilitated by the NFCA.

The total number of voting coaches must exceed 60-percent of the institutions represented on All-Region teams for a quorum to be reached.

In the event a quorum is not reached, the High School Steering Committee will be responsible for the selection of the All-American teams.

Speaking of America, and before she leaves for Virginia in mid-August, Eaton has spent this past June and July busy on her final travel softball circuit.

A member of Team NC-Hinde, Eaton already has played in invitationals in Dalton, Georgia and Boulder, Colorado —although she missed the Atlanta Legacy Invitational last week with her wisdom teeth removal.

Starting Friday for one week, she concludes her travel softball career in Huntington Beach, California —at the PGF Nationals 18-and-under Premier Tournament.

She will then play in the PGF All-American East-West High School Senior Game on Saturday, July 29 — representing the East of course.

That prestigious all-star game is set for a 7 p.m. first pitch —and will be nationally televised on ESPNU, with a re-airing on ESPNU on Monday, July 31.

Eaton said her move-in day for student-athletes at Virginia is Aug. 16 —with Aug. 22 the first day of classes for the Charlottesville campus.

Indeed, and no doubt, it’s been an All-American summer for Eaton —highlighted by an All-American and state champion career at Wheelersburg.

Just another way she is making her day better.  

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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