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Idaho Enterprise

Sports Star Awards given to individuals, team

May 29, 2024 10:04AM ● By Allison Eliason

Hallie Horsley received the Volleyball Player of the Year at the Idaho State Journal Sports Star Awards.

Hometown fans always have a special place in their hearts for their favorite athletes.  Year after year, season after season, they watch those players compete at a different level.  They brag about their stats, their stellar plays and amazing finishes.  Some might see a little bias in those hometown fans, that they might elevate those players because of the logo on their back, not the play on the field. 

But then comes the day that others, far more objective, begin to see just what those fans saw all along.  They see the grit, determination, and talent that lead them to such success.  On Wednesday, May 8, the Idaho State Journal hosted their annual Sports Stars Awards held at the Mountain View Event Center in Pocatello.  There they recognized coaches, teams and athletes throughout southeastern Idaho across all five sports classes, seasons and teams.  

Included in those honored were a number of Malad Dragon athletes, proving what local fans have known all along- that in their own way, they really are a cut above the rest.

  The Lady Dragon softball team was named the 2024 Spring Season Team at the Sports Star Awards.  Out of the many teams that compete in softball, track and field, boys and girls lacrosse, baseball, tennis and golf, the Malad team was selected for their impressive talent, hardfought records and a reputation of class and good sportsmanship.  The Lady Dragons weren’t able to receive the award in person as they were in the middle of their district games where they eventually won the title of District Champions for the twelfth consecutive year.

Head Coach Bri Adams commented, “We were so shocked and excited that of all the possible teams that could have received this award, we were awarded it.  We may have been given this award now in 2024, but it has been the teams and players and coaches before us that have helped us get here.  Our success was built on the backs of generations of great athletes and coaches and they deserve this recognition as much as we do.

“That being said, this is a great group of girls.  They are so talented and they work so hard at this game they love.  We see them putting in extra time batting when practice is over or fielding a few extra balls.  They are always trying to learn and are coachable.  Their talent and ability is amazing.  This year, every one of the nine starters had a home run.  That is almost unheard of.”

Also being recognized by the Idaho State Journal for her talent on the softball field was junior pitcher Riglee Peterson as the Softball Player of the Year.  Anyone that has watched this young athlete play in any sport will recognize a true competitor in her.  It doesn’t matter what she is playing, she is always a driving force.  Her energy and determination to outwit, outmuscles and just outplay her opponent is evident.

Looking forward to her junior year that would be full of victories, records and big wins, Peterson’s plans for 2023-2024 sports year were dashed in a second.  Playing in a summer volleyball match, Peterson went up for the outside hit and landed poorly on her knee.  It was immediately evident that something was seriously wrong.  Days later she learned that she had torn her ACL, an injury that could completely change her future in sports.

Determined to make it back for her junior season of softball, Peterson worked to rehab and strengthen her knee.  It was a long road, filled with moments of pain, heartache and disappointment.  She admitted that it was difficult, even depressing, to even watch her teammates play as they went on to a runner up title in volleyball and to have their most successful season of basketball in years.  Pushing her recovery, Peterson got the go ahead just before softball tryouts to return to play.

It wasn’t an immediate settle back into the game.  Peterson’s coaches weren’t entirely sure what she was capable of as she began the season but they soon learned that her mind, heart, and knee were ready to take to the field.  Coach Adams shared, “On her first hit of the season, she hit a triple and I was terrified to watch her run around the bases.  But the smile on her face and the confidence you could see there was a welcome sight to see again.”

Peterson, who has played softball for years, pulled together what might have been arguably one of her best seasons ever, despite coming back from such an intense injury.  In her 30 games this season, she had 98 at bats with a batting average of .531 to lead the team.  Her 52 hits included 6 home runs and triples, batted in 44 runs in addition to the 29 runs she put across the plate.

Over 23 games she pitched in 110 innings, throwing 1,631 pitches as she faced 480 batters, allowing 66 runs on 111 hits while striking out 154 batters.  When she wasn’t in the pitchers circles, Peterson fielded at shortstop, a position that lent to 17 putouts, 41 assists and fielding percentage of .892.

When asked about receiving this award, Peterson shared, “I am very grateful. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. This was a hard year and I just wanted to make it back and work hard to be able to play and be on the field again because I wasn’t going to let myself miss another season.. That thought was scary but I was determined. So when I received the award it was special and meant a lot and I’m extremely grateful.”

If one sports star chosen from the MHS athletes wasn’t exciting enough, a second was nothing short of incredible.  Named as the Volleyball Player of the Year was Lady Dragon outside hitter Hallie Horsley.

Early in her freshman year, Horsley proved that she was a force to be reckoned with on the court.  And year after year she brought more power and more intensity to her play.  Instead of being satisfied or content with her approach, swing and attack, she was hungry to improve and perfect every aspect of her game.

Horsley played a crucial role on the Lady Dragon volleyball team as a powerhouse outside hitter.  In nearly every game of every season she led the team with kills, often putting up more than 25 successful attacks in a single night.  It was nearly electrifying to watch a good set come her way, knowing she was unstoppable as she went up to slam the ball down.

It wasn’t just her strong hitting that made her such a successful player on the MHS team.  Consistently putting up digs and putting over nearly impassable serves, Horsley became an all around indispensable player.  As a freshman, her team won only two of their eleven games.  Working tirelessly to change that record, Horsley ended her high school career to lead her team to a 25-4 finish as well as taking second place in the IHSAA 2A State Volleyball Tournament.  Over her volleyball career Horsley was named to the All-Area second team and twice to the All-State first team.

Her talent on the court was easily noticed and the prospect of continuing her volleyball career became a real possibility.  Taking the time to market her talent, Horsley soon was on the radar of several college teams.  And in April of 2024, that possibility of playing at that next level became a reality as Horsley signed her commitment to play volleyball at Butte College in California.

“I wasn’t really expecting this award,” commented Horsley. " I had been told I would be receiving an award but I didn’t know what sport it was for, but I was really hoping it would be for volleyball.  I was super excited to receive this award because it meant that all my hard work, all the extra hours before and after practice, the extra lessons had all finally paid off.  I’m just super grateful for it.”

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