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

Some of the top first basemen in Arkansas prep softball

By Kyle Sutherland I Photo by Tommy Land

With the high school softball season in full swing, SBLive is looking at the best players in Arkansas. Today, we feature some of the top first basemen across all classifications. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great first basemen statewide. These are players we have seen along with recommendations from coaches. Our lists are solely to give recognition to athletes. Also, for the purpose of balancing the lists, along with players consistently being moved around, some might be mentioned with their secondary positions.

Kasse Appleton | Paris | SR

Also, a great volleyball player, Appleton was an RBI machine in 2021 sending 44 runners home and is known for great defense on first base. She was key in a 3-0 victory over Smackover in the state quarterfinals last year going 2-for-3 at the plate and scoring two of those runs.

“Kasse is a good defensive first baseman,” Paris head coach Donald Hart said. “Great leader who does whatever the teams need her to do.”

Natalie Creasey | McCrory | JR

Creasey moved to first last season after playing middle infield earlier in her career and is a “natural” at the position per Lady Jags head coach Ronnie Massanelli having not committed an error as of early April. On offense, she bats second in the lineup hitting .500 and an owns an on-base percentage of .625. She also pitches and threw a no-hitter against Marked Tree on March 4.

“Her flexibility allows her to make the tough plays at first when the ball is in the dirt,” Massanelli said. “She runs the bases well and may be the best overall athlete on our team.”

Alyson Edwards | Mansfield | SO 

One of two returning all-state players for Mansfield, Edwards came onto the scene as a freshman last season and dominated. In the circle, she went 17-5 and struck out 180 batters walking only 27 in 118 innings. Offensively, she hit .520 with 4 home runs and 25 runs batted in. Though she mostly pitches, her secondary spot is holding down first base and “she is phenomenal at first” per Mansfield head coach Donnie Eveld. In just a couple of appearances at first his year, she has turned three double plays.

Riley Gilmore | Benton | SR

The Middle Tennessee signee rarely, if ever, misses on making a save for the Lady Panthers defensively and offensively she is as powerful of a hitter as they come. She hit .456 last season with an .848 slugging percentage and hit two homeruns in the state championship game.

“She packs a punch when she swings,” Benton head coach Heidi Cox said.

Gwinn Hall | Little Rock Christian | SO

Hall led the Lady Warriors with a .580 batting average last season as a freshman and added eight home runs along with 40 runs batted in. She has continued to produce at the plate hitting .588 this year. Defensively, she already has double-digit put outs and an .857 fielding percentage as of early April.

“Gwinn is an athletic, strong kid with a great glove,” Lady Warriors head coach Caitlin Jones said. “She fields the bunt with great form and quickness.”

Lauryn Heinle | Rogers | SO

Heinle contributed heavily to the Lady Mounties’ 2021 quarterfinal team as a freshman last season and has built on that momentum raising her batting average to .423 this season. Rogers head coach Mike Harper mentioned before the season Heinle was part of a young, but talented, roster that he expected to improve throughout the course of the season, and it is clear Heinle has been a reason for the consistency.

Kaitlyn Horton | Sheridan | JR

Following a slump at the plate, Horton has shown resilience and earned her way back into the lineup after playing only on defense at first base where she has been really good all season boasting a .917 fielding percentage. She built some confidence back up in a recent game against El Dorado going 2-3 at the plate along with adding two runs batted in and walked once.

Kaley Isom | Rector | JR

Coming off an all-conference year as a sophomore, Isom has not skipped a beat. Batting fifth, she has hit around .460 with a .517 on base percentage and double-digit runs batted in as of early April.

Kaley’s presence batting fifth helps solidify the heart of the lineup,” Rector head coach Chris Richardson said. “She saves a lot of bad throws at first base and has shown a growth in power at the plate.”

Abbie Kelley | Mt. Vernon-Enola | SO

The Lady Warhawks have a plethora of power hitters in their lineup and Kelley is another example but is equally as good holding down first base. Batting fourth in the lineup, Kelley has hit just shy of .600 with a .645 on base percentage.

“She has an extremely powerful bat,” Lady Warhawks head coach Jason Jobe said.

Macie Lee | Arkansas High | FR

Lee is a talented left-handed pitcher but has also done a great job of locking down first base while not in the circle. She hits the ball hard all over the field and has a great glove boasting a solid fielding percentage of .952 and offensively has batted around .400 at the plate. She is just a freshman and will continue to only go up from here.

“Macie has a great attitude and is a work horse,” Arkansas High head coach Kaylee Dalby said.

Chloe McCance | Southside Batesville | JR

Now in her third year playing in the Lady Southerners’ starting lineup, she has had a successful career at third base but mainly playas on the other corner. Through mid-April she has hit .560, three home runs, scored 29 runs, 22 runs batted in, and has an on base percentage of .621. She has also stolen 19 bases.

“Chloe hits for power all over the place,” Lady Southerners head coach Bo Gould said. “She is really good with the glove at first.”

Maggie McHenry | Taylor | JR

McHenry has been a part of the Taylor dynasty that is hoping to win a ring for the thumb this season. Playing against some of the state’s top 4A competition this year, she has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage holding down first base and offensively has batted .419 with a .513 on base percentage.

Marleigh McCutcheon | Magnet Cove | SO

McCutcheon began the year at first but has also played shortstop. She is very athletic and is also the starting point guard on the Lady Panthers’ basketball team. Her head coach Hunter Vincent mentioned that she “sets the tone” for the team’s offensive output as the leadoff batter. Through the first week of April, McCutcheon hit .486 with a .581 on base percentage with 17 hits, 11 runs batted in, and 14 stolen bases. Defensively she had a .920 fielding percentage on 51 chances.

Katelyn Minge | Malvern | SO

Minge came up huge against Class 1A powerhouse Taylor in the gold bracket championship game of the D MAC Tournament in March, smacking a three-run homer that led to an 8-5 win for the Lady Leopards. On the season, Minge has batted .460 with 26 runs batted in, 12 doubles and a triple through mid-April.

Julia Nutt | Alma | SO

As of early April, Nutt has registered a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on defense and ranks second on the team in putouts. Offensively, she bats fifth in the lineup, while also contributing some as the designated hitter, and has hit .345 this season.

Trista Peterson | Bentonville | JR

One of multiple records broken by the Lady Tigers last season was eclipsing 50 home runs and probably the most impactful of all was Peterson’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the fourth inning that eventually gave Bentonville a 3-0 win over Conway to win the state championship. She picked right back up where she left off from last year smashing three homers in a 12-2 victory over Hallsville (Texas), which is a school record and has helped the Lady Tigers remain the top-ranked team in Class 6A this season.

Sydney Preston | Smackover | JR

Smackover head coach Dennis Steele simply referred to Preston as “Awesome” when asked about her. She is exceptionally powerful at the plate and batted .421 as a sophomore but has been slowed by injuries this season since the fourth game. She was continuing to build off of her game prior to the injury and could be back by the time regionals begin.

“The Sydney Preston girl is just crushing the ball,” Steele told the El Dorado News-Times during preseason. “I don’t mean hitting the ball. I mean crushing it. She’ll only get better.”

Liv Slayton | Baptist Prep | JR

Slayton has been a staple of the Class 3A dynasty that is Baptist Prep since her ninth-grade year and has batted .462 with an on base percentage of .517. She also has five home runs -two of which were grand slams- with 30 runs batted in. Defensively, she has a .970 fielding percentage holding down first base. When not at first, she is one of the Lady Eagles’ main trio of pitchers and boasts a 2.0 earned run average with a WHIP of 1.04.

Emma Sowell | Vilonia | FR

Vilonia has a strong softball tradition and with Sowell, along with a great nucleus of freshmen, the Lady Eagles could very well get back to the level they were when the program won back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016. She is having a good season at the plate batting .429 with an on base percentage of .565, and 13 runs batted in through mid-April.

“Emma has quietly become one of our better hitters and continues to play lights out defensively,” Vilonia head coach Kevin Sullivan said.

Reagan Washam | Tuckerman | SR

Washam is one of just two seniors on a Lady Bulldogs team that is arguably the most talented team from top to bottom in Class 2A. She possesses a “very solid glove” that “definitely makes our infielders look good” according to Tuckerman head coach Matt Dillon. At the plate, Washam has hit .489 with an on base percentage of .529, 18 runs batted in, 7 doubles and a home run through mid-April.

“Reagan is a glue player for our team,” Dillon said. “Her glove and defensive leadership on our team has been a huge reason for our season.”

Kaitlyn Webb | Woodlawn | JR

Webb leads by example and will “without a doubt” be the Lady Bears’ team leader next season according to head coach Kyle Thaxton. She mainly holds down first but has also spent time in the circle to give freshman ace Lillie-Faye McWhorter rest and “has seen the ball extremely well” according to Thaxton. Batting second, Webb is third on the team batting .438 with an on base percentage of .591 and 16 runs batted in as of mid-April.

Dallice White | Pea Ridge | SR

White has started for Pea Ridge the past two seasons and is described by her head coach Josh Reynolds as the “energy bug of the team.” Through the middle of April, White has batted .378 with 17 runs batted in and scored 14 runs.

“Dallice has the unique quality to lead by emotion,” Reynolds said. “She is the biggest cheerleader of each and every teammate.”

Caroline Wilhelm | Bentonville West | SR

The Pitt State signee is a three-year starter for the Lady Wolverines and can play anywhere in the infield. She has improved her batting average from .356 last season to around .450 to go with 21 runs batted in and 5 home runs through mid-April.

“Caroline is a leader in the dugout and off the field for us,” West head coach Anthony Cantrell said.