PDT Sports Editor
The Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association released its list of All-State performers Wednesday afternoon and five area softball players made the list.
Braiden Dillow and Brooke Cooper from the SOC II champion Valley Lady Indians each were named to the First Team in Division III.
Dillow had a senior record of 25-1 and had nearly 80 wins over her career at Valley. She also recorded 273 strikeouts as a senior, pushing her career total more than 800. Earlier this spring, Dillow committed to pitch at Bowling Green State University.
“She’s been a leader on the field and the kids respect her and play hard for her and she is a warrior on the mound. She leads by example,” Valley coach Montie Spriggs said.
Cooper had an outstanding junior campaign with a batting average of .577 on the year. She helped the Lady Indians reach the regional final game for the second time in three seasons.
“Brooke had a phenomenal year at the plate and defensively she played very well,” Spriggs said. “She’s the leader of the outfield and is another one that leads by example.”
Spriggs said having his pair of players receive such high honors from coaches around the state spoke about the state of high school softball in the area.
“It’s a great honor for me to coach two girls who are All-State and it speaks to the type of kids that we have down here,” Spriggs said. “We don’t have a lot of big schools down here and it means that people recognize that we play great softball down here and have great kids.”
Minford’s Kelsey Conkey was the third area player to be named First Team in Div. III after her stellar season for the Lady Falcons. She recorded 255 strike outs in only her sophomore season.
“For a sophomore to take on the responsibilities she did, we had six first-year starters and for her to carry us and handle all the pressure was a big task,” Minford coach Preston Messer said. “People don’t understand the pressure she was under day in and day out. If she had a bad game we would struggle. She was the game setter for us really.”
Messer said her best performance of the season came in a Sectional Championship game against Rock Hill. Conkey struck out 12 and the Lady Falcons won 1-0.
The coach also said having a sophomore voted onto a First Team roster was a great honor for the Minford program and area softball.
“I think it’s a great honor for our conference and for southern Ohio,” Messer said. “Very few sophomores get that honor and to me it just shows you what kind of kid she is and what kind of competitor she is. She didn’t get this by not working hard and just sitting around.”
Also in Div. III, Ironton’s Rebekkah Potter was named a Second Team performer.
In Division IV, Katie Hill of Symmes Valley was named Second Team and Clay’s Autumn Griffith earned Honorable Mention.
Griffith, a junior, helped the Lady Panthers win the SOC I title in 2012 and advance to the District tournament.
The Lady Panthers finished 19-8 overall and 13-1 in conference.
Clay coach Jason Gearheart was not available Wednesday for comment.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.