Posted Date: 06/27/2023
Several local high school stars represented their respective sports as the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star weekend took place in Conway this past extended weekend. Included in the athletic package were three Mansfield Lady Tigers among other local products.
Recent Mansfield graduates Brooklyn Adams and Natalie Allison enjoyed the spotlight at the Arkansas Activities Association premiere event. Lady Tiger head volleyball coach Kaylie Pyles also joined the mix as All-Star weekend unfolded on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas.
Adams played in the All-Star softball games. Allison and Pyles joined for the volleyball matches.
Just in those two sports alone, the AHSCA All-Star rosters included seven other local athletes and three more coaches.
Leigh Swint of Booneville, Kyndall Haney of Charleston, Ireland Cooper of Greenwood, and Emberlin Caldwell of Van Buren fortified the West softball roster. Brailey Frost of Paris, Brianna Ball of Van Buren, and Landis Luke of Greenwood infused the West team volleyball roster.
Chad Simpson of Booneville, Jared James of Greenland, and Whitney Bateman of Scranton served as All-Star softball coaches.
Serving on this year’s West volleyball coaching staff as an assistant was Mansfield’s Pyles. Nearly nine years ago to the day, Pyles was a player on the West All-Star team as a recent Mansfield High School graduate. Her All-Star head coach was Mena’s Brad Lyle.
Fast forward to 2023 and you’ll find Lyle once again was on the sideline. This time he served as an assistant coach for the West alongside Pyles.
To further bridge the link, Lyle’s daughter Madilyn was also on the 2023 volleyball All-Star roster. The connection went full circle as Madilyn was among the first players Pyles taught as a college intern working for Mena Junior High several seasons ago.
Pyles rejoined Mansfield’s Player of the Year, Natalie Allison, on the volleyball court at Friday’s All-Star event. The two have been together throughout most of their careers and have won three consecutive state volleyball championships together.
Allison will move on in the Fall to play college volleyball at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. That’s the same school Pyles attended when she advanced beyond her own high school career to play next level volleyball.
The West volleyball dominated the East squad with a five game sweep. In the second match in particular, the one that Allison started, the West team rolled.
“I knew we were going to be pretty good, I just didn’t know how good the other team was going to be,” offered Allison in a post game interview. “We never had any miscommunications. We clicked instantly, our whole team.”
Mansfield’s Brooklyn Adams started the All-Star show on that same Friday about two hours before the first serve of the volleyball game that took place across the UCA campus at the Farris Center. Adams was the starting catcher for the West softball team that saw its first pitch at 4 PM at the Farris Fields Complex.
Adams caught the first four innings for starting pitcher Emberlin Caldwell. Caldwell went on to win MVP honors as the West swept the East in a double header 1 - 0 and 6 - 2.
“She pitches wherever I wanted her to,” explained Adams as she reviewed the reunion with Caldwell, her travel softball teammate. “I was calling the signs for her. She’s very accurate and a great pitcher all-around.”
Adams will extend her softball career at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma. This comes after leading her Mansfield High School team twice to the state finals.
“I love being in control of the game,” continued Adams. “I feel like that’s what I get to do when I’m behind the plate.”
Adams and Allison shared the field and courts as successful high school players. This past school year alone the two painted a historic landscape featuring Mansfield athletics.
As teammates in 2022-23, the pair captured the 2A state volleyball crown. They sent the basketball team to the state tournament final four. They led the state to its longest softball winning streak this school year before it ended in a 1 - 0 loss in the class 2A state championship game.
Both also scored in the 2A-4 District track meet. That program went on to win the ATCA indoor track title and took runner-up at the class 2A outdoor track finals this school year.
Allison concluded her All-Star appearance with positive emotions about meeting new teammates and making new friends.
“You’d think we’ve known each other for years,” said Allison as she spoke on the immediate chemistry felt among the West volleyball players. “It was like we were best friends. It was really fun.”
Adams shared her All-Star experience with similar insight.
“It’s been an awesome opportunity,” said Adams as she left Farris Field, the site of the 2023 state softball finals, a winner this time around.