Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
Steely eyed and lips pursed, the Boyd County senior is keenly focused and all business between the lines.
“Emily has an extreme will to win,” said Lady Lions softball coach Geoff Stewart (no relation). “She’s very driven to succeed on the field and off the field.”
A stellar student and three-sport All-Area standout the likes of which Boyd County perhaps has never seen, Stewart breaks into a big smile when asked about her game face.
“I’m a little intense on the field,” she said. “I can’t help it. I’m very competitive.”
Stewart’s approach in every sport reflects her motto: “There’s no excuse for not trying your hardest every play.”
The shortstop/point guard/goalkeeper is admired just as much for her leadership. Just ask Boyd County senior first baseman Nicole Goins.
“Emily is a role model, even for somebody of my age,” Goins said. “She knows the right thing to say or do to keep us in the game, no matter the situation.”
A second-team All-State selection last year, Stewart is trying to help the Lady Lions go out with a bang in her final season.
Her .490 batting average entering the weekend included 19 extra-base hits. Defensively, Stewart can make all the plays at shortstop and also shines at catcher when the need arises.
Geoff Stewart, now in his 12th year at Boyd County, doesn’t like to rank his players but makes an exception in this case.
“Emily is definitely at the top of the list, and we’ve had a lot of good softball players come through here,” he said. “She’s a very impressive athlete.”
Stewart’s uniform number — 00 — is distinctive, like her talents.
“She can run, she can throw, she can hit, she can play defense,” her coach said. “What makes it all better is how smart Emily is at situations, knowing what to do and executing it.”
Stewart and junior second baseman Taylor Wheeler form one of the state’s better combinations up the middle.
“I’ve played basketball and softball with Taylor my whole life,” Stewart said. “I can’t imagine my life without her.”
After a jam-packed high school athletic career, Emily will concentrate on academics in college. The Governor’s Scholar, ranked sixth in her graduating class, received a full tuition scholarship to Louisville.
“I can’t believe I’m not playing sports in college,” Stewart said. “I guess education is more important to me. Besides, it would be weird not to play for Boyd County.”
On the basketball court, Stewart elevated her play at point guard as a senior to help lead Boyd County back to the region finals. She scored 15 points in the championship game, a 54-52 loss to Ashland, and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Stewart’s defense, rebounding and ballhandling were keys for the Lady Lions. She became more of an offensive threat down the stretch with her ability to take the ball to the basket.
“We needed Emily to score, and she did,” Boyd County coach Pete Fraley said. “Emily is a great kid who always plays her tail off. She not only left an impact on softball and basketball at Boyd County, but soccer too.”
Stewart averaged 18 saves as a junior and repeated as an All-Area soccer selection last fall, again stopping a high percentage of shots on goal.
Ashland girls soccer coach E. B. Lowman, No. 2 on Kentucky’s all-time win list, called Stewart a game-changer.
“She kept Boyd County in games they might otherwise have not been in, and helped them win games they might otherwise have not won,” Lowman said. “Emily is as tough as anybody we saw in the goal.”
Thanks to Stewart’s yeoman’s work protecting the net, Boyd County allowed only 2.2 goals per game last season.
“She’s an impact player evidently in every sport she plays,” Lowman said. “When you watch her in soccer, you can see the athleticism, the recognition of where to be, and her quickness.”
Stewart’s mother (Donna) played softball and Emily is particularly passionate about the sport. She’s been in the BCHS program since seventh grade and sharpened her skills with travel softball.
Emily wants badly to make it to the softball State Tournament for the first time. Ashland has blocked the Lady Lions’ path throughout her career and also won both regular season meetings this season.
“I’ve worked for this so long,” Stewart said. “We’ve always had the athletes, but have not been able to pull through. If we make it to state and lose, I won’t be too sad because getting there is what you play for all season.”
She participated in Kentucky’s Junior East-West All-Star Game last year and has been chosen for the senior game in June.
For all of her seriousness whatever ball is in play, Stewart likes to laugh and have fun. She was voted Homecoming queen, as well as Prom Queen.
At Boyd County’s Senior Night last week, Emily listed “Cocoa (Beach) pranking”, and “Watching Nicole (Goins) run” as two of her favorite Boyd County softball memories.
“Emily always makes fun of my running,” Goins said with a laugh. “Everybody knows I’m slow. The two of us have played softball together since we were 7.”
Stewart and Goins are part of a potent Boyd County offense.
“I think the lineup is pretty even all the way down,” Stewart said. “Our team is strong. I wouldn’t put it past anybody to hit a home run at any time.”
Boyd County hosts Fairview in the 64th District Tournament today at 6 p.m.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.
Three-sport star Stewart has done it all for Boyd County
Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
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Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
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