In softball, it is hard for one player to carry a team — and Jiles had help — but her .509 batting average with five home runs, 19 walks, only five strikeouts and a staggering 60 RBI during her 2012 Times-Georgian All-Area MVP campaign puts a player as close as they can come.
The senior catcher will be the first to say it wasn’t only her that played a part in the third-place finish in Class AAA. Other players had to get on base in order for her to knock them in. As a catcher, there were eight other people on the field stopping the other team and anything else she can give her teammates credit for, she’s the first to do it as the all-around Lady Lion leader.
“I just tried to focus on the team as much as I could. I know a lot of people would come up to me and talk about my RBIs, and all I had to say about that was, that wasn’t me. I had to have girls get on the bases to get those RBIs. I still give that credit to my teammates. They got on base and I did what I had to do when I got to the plate. As the team progressed, I guess I caught on, too. It’s been a great experience,” Jiles said.
Jiles did get the record for most RBI in a season by a Central player and is now tied for sixth all time in the state of Georgia in that category.
But when you ask Central coach Jimmy LeBlanc, it is hard to put into words how much Jiles meant to the Lady Lions during her four-year career.
“She’s such a quality person, such a quality student — she’s third in the class — but to be so steady and fly under the radar. I think that’s the thing when you get to the state level and you see these players and she’s just rocking along doing what she’s been doing. You get to thinking she more than compares with some of the better players in the state,” LeBlanc said.
Jiles senior year came in what could have been a rebuilding year for Central. The team had just graduated five seniors and most of the team would consist of underclassmen. But she stuck with it and reaped the benefits.
“She came in and just led. A lot of times it wasn’t vocal leadership, but it was still leadership. To have the year she had, batting over .500, 60 RBI. People down in Macon [at the state meetings] asked, ‘Is that a real number?’ I said, ‘Heck yeah it’s a real number.’ It’s just tremendous for her and for her to get some recognition at the end of it all, because she really has done such a fine job for us,” LeBlanc said.
Those meetings resulted in Jiles making First-Team All-State and was the runner-up for the Class AAA Player of the Year. Jiles also earned Region 4-AAA Player of the Year honors, as she and the Lady Lions continued to impress at every level.
“She caught  games and had one error. Not only that, but you’re talking about a kid that called every pitch. We would talk hitters, we would talk scouting reports and those kinds of things and sometimes we would communicate from the dugout and remind her about who was there, but we were always together in our thinking. And to handle two sophomores — two good sophomores — but still to handle young pitchers from behind the plate, you just can’t speak enough about her value to our team,” LeBlanc said.
When the Central coach is forced to think about playing next year without his staple behind the plate and run generator at the plate, it’s hard to think how it will be done. LeBlanc compared losing Jiles to the Chicago Bulls playing without Michael Jordan, the Boston Celtics losing Larry Bird and the New York Yankees having to play this past year without future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera.
The one thing LeBlanc does know is that one player can’t step in and do what Jiles did right away, it will be replacement by committee to fill the void.
Whether talking about her season, the team’s season and all the success the Lady Lions enjoyed this season, one word keeps coming out of Jiles’ mouth — “Unexpected.”
For a player who has caught since she was 8 years old, there was a time where she thought her softball career might be over. But she made the decision to come back, and everyone was better because of it. And the best part, getting to spend extra time with her teammates and friends.
“It was something I didn’t expect in the very beginning because we were so new, but to make it that far and to get to spend more time together as a team than other team’s got to, that was the most important thing to me, because I wasn’t ready for it to be over,” Jiles said. “I got to spend time with the girls. We went to Columbus, so we got to spend the night together. We got to go out to eat a lot more together … that was the extra part, just being together as a family.”
Behind the plate, Jiles committed just one error in 40 games and caught a fellow all-state performer and Region 4-AAA Pitcher of the Year, Taylor Funk.
“I know they had a very good relationship. You could see that and it was a neat relationship to watch them develop last year, see it continue through the offseason into this year. They really enjoyed working together. She enjoyed catching Taylor and I think Taylor really enjoyed pitching to her,” LeBlanc said.
“When you think of how Alison is thought of by her teammates, I know another one that’s going to miss her is Hayley Sims. She and Hayley were really tight, too. Those young players really appreciated her for the person she is, the player she is and the leader she is. It speaks volumes.”
Up next for Jiles is college, and hopefully more softball. But the education is key.
“She wants to be a nurse, and they’re going to have to have a quality nursing program. She is flying under the radar,” LeBlanc said.
Jiles added, “I want to go to school and be a nurse. That’s my No. 1 goal — to go to school to go to school. I didn’t know if I wanted to play softball in college because I’ve been catching since I was 8 and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go to college and play softball and be healthy. I’m looking at a few schools, I’ve gone on a couple visits, I’ve talked to a few coaches. I’m hoping that I will go to college to play softball and hoping that in the next few months I’ll know for sure.”