Finalists for Zaharias Awards told

Published 11:28 pm Monday, May 9, 2016

By Bob West

BEAUMONT — Finalists for the sixth annual Babe Didrikson Zaharias Awards have been announced, and for the first time since 2013 there is considerable suspense as to who will be named the Boys Player of the Year.

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The awards are sponsored by South Hampton Resources of Silsbee, with the backing of the Babe Zaharias Foundation. They recognize the area’s top male and female high school golfers, with plaques also going to one male and one female in the area of Character and Leadership.

Port Neches-Groves’ Braden Bailey, who is now having a sensational freshman season at Baylor, had a monopoly on the boys award, winning Player of the Year three times and earning the Character and Leadership Award as a freshman.

In Bailey’s absence, the top male player looks to be wide open between Kelly’s William Miller, Bridge City’s Skylar Petroski and the PN-G duo of Josh Elmore and Tyler Feemster. On the girls side, PN-G’s Karlei Hemler is looking to repeat as Player of the Year, but is expected to be seriously challenged by Lauren Cox of Little Cypress-Mauriceville.

Hemler’s PN-G teammate Brynna Bailey and Buna’s Abbie Crawford are the other finalists.

Bailey and Cox are two of the three nominees for Girls Character and Leadership. Also in the running is Escarly Candelaria of Ozen.

Boys Character and Leadership Finalists are Blake Thibodaux of PN-G, Bailey Holt of Silsbee and Jake Woods of West Brook.

The Zaharias Award winners will be announced the night of Thursday, June 9, following a dinner in the Cardinal Club room at Lamar University’s Montagne Center. Guest speaker for the event will be announced at a later date.