Martin Player of the Year

Photo by Sandy Moss Union County Lady Jackets softball standout pitcher Payton Martin.

Photo by Cindy Erwin Phillips Payton Martin, center, is pictured with her mother, Lisa Martin, left; her sister, Kristen Martin, right; and father, Joey Martin, behind, after the Lady Jackets’ state championship win in Hartsville.

UNION COUNTY — Congratulations to the Union County Yellow Jackets softball team’s standout pitcher Payton Martin for being selected as the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports Class AAA Softball Player of the Year!

Payton Martin — a rising senior at Union County High School — has played softball since she began playing Dixie Softball at age five.

“My older sister, Kristen, played and I wanted to do everything she did,” Martin said. “I begged my parents to let me take pitching lessons when I was eight because our Dixie team needed pitchers. The very first game I pitched, I nearly hyperventilated I was so nervous.”

After that first season, Martin was approached by a 10U travel ball team based in Spartanburg that was looking for pitchers. She said Jay Allen of Union suggested her to the coach.

“I have played year round ever since,” she said. “Softball has allowed me the opportunity to travel all over the country as I have played from California to Florida. I have made friends all over the state, many of whom played on opposing teams during our (UCHS) season.”

Martin pitched for the back-to-back-state-champion Union County Lady Jackets softball team during both championship seasons. This year, she pitched six complete shutouts on her own, and she shared innings with fellow pitcher Ashley Vinson for two additional shutouts. Martin finished the season with a 21-0 record and a .789 ERA. She also delivered 121 strikeouts in 133 innings pitched. Her batting average was .356.

“When I am on the mound I try to block out everything and just concentrate on throwing the pitch that has been called,” Martin said. “From an early age my parents taught me to keep my emotions in check and to focus on the things I had control over. Knowing that my teammates are going to make the defensive plays behind me makes my job easier.”

Martin said she is honored to be chosen as the South Carolina Coaches Association of Women’s Sports Class AAA Softball Player of the Year.

“But I realize each member of the talented team around me is equally deserving and has contributed greatly to my success,” she added.

Payton is the daughter of Joey and Lisa Martin.