Over the past decade, the softball talent has truly reached a fever pitch all across the Tri-State Area.
In Southeastern Ohio, that has proven to be no different, as a monstrous total of 41 Scioto County athletes were named to the 2017 All-Southeast District Softball lists that were officially released on Friday evening.
And not surprisingly, a familiar softball power headed the charge by fielding the best of the best to play the sport in Ohio.
The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates, who are coming off a 25-3 record, their third straight Final Four appearance, and a OHSAA Division III state runner-up finish, put four girls on the All-District list, including a Scioto County-best three on the Division III First-Team squad.
Faith Howard, a Northern Kentucky signee who threw shutouts in all but six games in 2017 to close out a fantastic career from the circle, garnered First-Team accolades and was followed by fellow standout Kalle Coleman, a Morehead State signee who started from the leadoff position in all four years of her varsity career with the Lady Pirates.
Kasey Bergan, a more-than-reliable catching hand who hit in the three-hole for Wheelersburg, rounded out the first team honorees for Wheelersburg, while the Lady Pirates’ Bre Klaiber — who brought a solid glove to the table at third base and batted cleanup for Wheelersburg over the duration of the 2017 season — made the second team list.
In addition to the Lady Pirates, Minford, Northwest, Portsmouth, West, and Valley also put four selections apiece on the unit, with the Lady Falcons — who finished as SOC II runner-ups at 12-2 and Division III, Unioto II District runner-ups — putting Mary Pica, a Rio Grande signee who, like Klaiber, brought a dandy glove to the table at third base and a big bat to the Minford order in the three-hole, on the first team list. West’s Makayla White, a shortstop/third baseman who proved to be a strong hitter from the No. 3 hole, rounded out the Scioto Countians who made Division III First-Team. The junior is the lone returnee of the five individuals who garnered first-team accolades.
Joining Klaiber on the second team were the remaining trio of Minford honorees, including Zoe Doll, who brought a lethal bat and glove to the circle from her second base position, Ariel Kingery, who served as the team’s ace in the circle and brought a lethal bat to the cleanup part of the Lady Falcons’ order, and Hannah Tolle, who is one of the area’s bright young talents and had a strong second half of the year.
Portsmouth added Semajah Parker, a talented slugger as her .509 batting average, five home runs, and 22 RBI suggest, and Andi Queen, the Lady Trojans’ pitching ace who also hit .444 on the year with eight doubles, on the second unit, while Valley’s Marissa Markins — the team’s most talented hitter and an excellent fielder at first base — West’s Terra Butcher — who had one of the most powerful bats in Southeastern Ohio as the Lady Senators’ cleanup hitter — and Northwest’s Laiken Rice, who served as the Lady Mohawks’ pitching ace and held a strong bat near the top of the Northwest lineup, rounded out the second team honorees. Addisyn Newman, Alexis Lute, and Hope Shepherd (Northwest); Destiny Gardner, Margaret Caldwell, and Maddi Kuhn (Valley); Kayleigh Coleman and Haleigh Throckmorton (West); and Bailey Horsley and Sharia Kearns (Portsmouth) were all honorable mention selections.
In Division IV, Clay, who won its first district championship since 2010 and advanced to the regional semifinals behind a 28-2 overall mark, put four individuals on the Division IV All-District lists, and — like Wheelersburg — put three of their four honorees on the first team.
Leading the way for Clay was Jensen Warnock, who, with a .540 batting average, five home runs, 37 RBI, and 15 doubles, paced the 14-0 SOC I Champions in each of those categories. Hannah Oliver and Julia Swain joined Warnock on the first team after combining to obtain each of the Lady Panthers’ 28 victories from the circle behind a combined total punchout number that exceeded 250. They each collected ERA’s of under 1.20 throughout the year — with the latter adding a batting average that exceeded .370 — en route to first-team honors. Maggie Whitman, Notre Dame’s ace in the circle and the Lady Titans’ leadoff hitter who came on strong over the second half of the year, joined the trio on the first team.
On the second unit, East’s Peyton Helphinstine, New Boston’s Kaylee Stone, Clay’s Shaelynn Vassar, and Notre Dame’s Cassie Schaefer were strongholds throughout the year. Helphinstine continued her strong efforts in multiple sports, Stone did the same while playing a critical role at the shortstop position and at the team’s No. 3 slot in the batting order, Vassar stole a team-high 25 bases and drove in 22 runs while exceeding .500 at the plate, and Schaefer was strong right in the middle of the Notre Dame order while serving as a general behind the dish and as a co-No. 1 to Whitman in the circle.
East’s Gracie Billings, a solid hitter at the top of the Lady Tartans’ lineup, Notre Dame’s Sydney Whitman, one of the many bright young stars in the SOC I ranks, New Boston’s Tasha Poole, who served as the Lady Tigers’ ace in the circle, and South Webster’s Mikayla Belford and Kaylee Hadinger — the former serving as the Lady Jeeps’ ace, the latter as a speed demon across the basepaths — rounded out the efforts from Scioto County’s Division IV units.