The Starting Five

Some bald dude’s All-21st Century Washington County Softball teams

by on Jun.21, 2011, under Prep Softball, Prep Sports, Uncategorized

(Edit: As pointed out in the comments section, this is basically a look at the top single-season performances in Washington County prep softball since 2000. If I have time later this summer, I will go back and compile another list (a “version 2.0″ if you will) that looks at each player’s overall career to the best of my ability (which is to say, using the information I have). Stay tuned.)

Now that the 2010-11 high school sports year is in the books, I find myself — like the rest of The Herald-Mail sports staff — with a little extra free time on my hands, at least until various District 1 Little League tournaments kick off beginning Friday with the start of the 9-10 tournament.

To help fill the time, I decided to take a look back at one of my high school beats — softball. Having just completed the 2011 All-Washington County teams, I was more than a little curious to see how today’s stars compare to those of yesteryear — or at least, those who have graduated since 2000.

I took over the softball beat in 2003, which is the first year I had a reasonable set of statistics at my fingertips (and even those were incomplete … it seems I’ve gotten better at keeping more detailed records over the years). I made use of The Herald-Mail’s microfilm archives to get information for 2000 through 2002. I wish I could say I found complete statistics for every All-County First Team honoree in the last 12 seasons, but the truth is I didn’t, and someone may very well have slipped through the cracks.

Please keep that in mind as I unveil my (completely unofficial, mostly for entertainment purposes as well as a trip down Memory Lane) All-21st-Century All-County Softball teams.

A couple other notes:

  • There are several players who produced multiple single seasons that were good enough to crack these lists. To simplify things, I took each player’s best season (as I judged them).
  • There’s no question the level of hitting in the county has rapidly improved in the last handful of years. Of the 20 position players selected to either the first or second team, 16 of them produced their best season in or after 2007. I suppose the question could be asked, “Did the hitting get better or did the pitching get worse?” And while it’s also true that three of the five pitchers selected to the first or second team pitched from 2000 to 2004, I believe the overall talent level in the county has improved by leaps and bounds, and it’s shown at the plate. The Washington County Girls Softball League, as well as various travel organizations, such as the Tri-State Thunder and the Frederick Heartbreakers (and that’s just two of many), have made a huge impact.
  • Want to know one of the reasons Smithsburg’s team has been so good the last two years? Outfield production. Leopards outfielders have produced four of the top five offensive seasons at that position since 2000 (again, as judged by me) — and if I was taking both of Brooke Parks’ seasons instead of just one, that number would be five of six. She also has two more years left. Wowzers. For the most part, there haven’t been that many outstanding offensive seasons in the outfield — which makes sense, since most teams stick their best non-pitching players at shortstop, third base or second base.
  • Clearly, aside from the pitching selections, the other spots were awarded entirely on offensive production. That’s because those are the stats I have. There’s no doubt some very fine defensive players have played in the county, but I have to make these selections based on the information I have.

That’s enough disclaimers. Send all hate mail to my attention. Without further ado:

SOME BALD DUDE’S ALL-21ST CENTURY WASHINGTON COUNTY SOFTBALL FIRST TEAM

Alison Higgs, pitcher, South Hagerstown

I’m taking Higgs’ senior season in 2001, which in my opinion is the best single season by a county player in the last 12 years.

In the circle, Higgs only went 12-9 — the Rebels were very young and not the best hitting or fielding team — but her other stats tell the story. She allowed just 54 hits and 13 walks in 140 1/3 innings, producing an incredible 0.48 WHIP (combined walks and hits per inning pitched) that’s the best mark in the county since the turn of the millennium. Her ERA (0.38) also is the best of any player who pitched more than 50 innings in a season, and she struck out 215 (1.53 hitters per inning), which is the third-most in the last 12 years (St. Maria Goretti’s Caroline Rosenthal fanned 254 in 2009, and Smithsburg’s Bethany Garnand struck out 217 in 2008).

That only tells half the story. Higgs also was feared at the plate. She hit .455 (30-for-66) with six doubles, three triples and four home runs for an .818 slugging percentage. She stole 15 bases and finished with 29 RBIs.

Is it any surprise Higgs went to Iona, set numerous school hitting and pitching records and was inducted into the Iona Hall of Fame earlier this month?

Kelly Beard, pitcher, Williamsport

I’m taking Beard’s junior season in 2008, when she won Herald-Mail Washington County Pitcher of the Year honors after going 10-2 with a 1.10 ERA. In 96 innings, Beard allowed only 42 hits and 18 walks for a 0.63 WHIP that ranks second behind Higgs over the past 12 years. Beard struck out 113, a respectable 1.18 per inning.

Kayla Ewing, catcher, Williamsport

I’m taking Ewing’s just-completed 2011 Herald-Mail Washington County Hitter of the Year award-winning senior season, which is the greatest offensive season of the past 12 years. Ewing outperforms everybody else over these last 12 years in average (.621, 36-for-58), home runs (10), slugging percentage (1.328) and OPS (on-base plus slugging, which was a ridiculous 2.004). She finished with seven doubles, two triples, 33 RBIs, 25 runs scored and 10 walks. She’s heading to Hagerstown Community College next year, and Hawks coach Amy Sterner must be absolutely pumped about it.

Christina Mehaffie, infielder, Clear Spring

I’m taking Mehaffie’s senior season in 2008, a year she finished just behind South Hagerstown’s Brittany Hyatt (more on her in a second) in the race for The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Hitter of the Year honors. Mehaffie hit .500 (25-for-50) with a remarkable 17 doubles as well as four homers, 16 RBIs, 10 runs scored, nine walks, a 1.080 slugging percentage and a 1.656 OPS.

Brittany Hyatt, infielder, South Hagerstown

I’m taking Hyatt’s junior season in 2007, one of several outstanding ones the three-time Herald-Mail All-Area First Team honoree had. She won her first of two Herald-Mail Washington County Hitter of the Year awards in 2007, batting .540 (27-for-50) with nine doubles, four homers, 17 RBIs, 21 runs scored, a .960 slugging percentage and a 1.542 OPS.

Hyatt is currently playing for West Virginia State, where she was named the West Virginia Conference Player of the Year in 2010.

Desiree Giffin, infielder, South Hagerstown

I’m taking Giffin’s senior season in 2009, when she was named The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Hitter of the Year. She batted .536 (30-for-56) with five doubles, two triples, three homers, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, an .857 slugging percentage and a 1.451 OPS.

Haley Payne, infielder, Boonsboro

I’m taking Payne’s just-completed senior season, in which she finished second to Ewing for The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Hitter of the Year honors (a distant second, not that there’s any shame in that). Payne hit .490 (25-for-51) with five doubles, three triples and five homers for a 1.000 slugging percentage (third behind only Ewing and Mehaffie over the past 12 years) and a 1.536 OPS (fourth behind Ewing, Mehaffie and Hyatt).

Brooke Parks, outfielder, Smithsburg

I’m taking Parks’ freshman season in 2010, when she burst onto the scene with the best freshman season by anyone in the past 12 years (teammate Shayla Murray’s 2009 season came close): A .510 average (26-for-51), six doubles, two triples, one homer, 23 RBIs, 17 runs, a .765 slugging percentage and a 1.326 OPS that tops the outfield charts (although I don’t have enough information to calculate the OPS for our next honoree …)

Adrienne Munoz, outfielder, Williamsport

I’m taking Munoz’s junior season in 2004, when she hit .442 (23-for-52) with five doubles, two triples, three homers, 10 RBIs, 25 runs scored and a .788 slugging percentage that’s the best of any outfielder in the past 12 years. If only I had Munoz’s walks total so I could calculate her OPS, but given the other numbers, it’s safe to say Munoz’s season is right up there with Parks’.

Sam Gladhill, outfielder, Smithsburg

I’m taking Gladhill’s recently completed sophomore season. She hit .438 (32-for-73) with four doubles, four triples, two homers, 33 RBIs, 26 runs scored, a .685 slugging percentage and a 1.179 OPS. Pretty scary to think Parks and Gladhill have already produced two of the three best offensive seasons by an outfielder in the last 12 years, and both have two more years to play.

Heather Schlotterbeck, utility, Clear Spring

I’m taking Schlotterbeck’s sophomore season in 2010 — and let the controversy begin.

In 2010, Schlotterbeck finished second to North Hagerstown’s Shanan Plunkett in the race for The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Hitter of the Year honor — a race I blame entirely for my bald scalp. (What? I was bald before 2010? Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!)

By the numbers:

  • Plunkett — .421 (24-57), 5 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers, 21 RBIs, 27 runs, 16 walks, .548 OBP, .772 SLG, 1.320 OPS
  • Schlotterbeck — .500 (31-62), 8 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, 22 RBIs, 21 runs, 3 walks, .523 OBP, .839 SLG, 1.362 OPS

Schlotterbeck had the edge in average and power, while Plunkett’s 16 walks gave her an edge in on-base percentage. It was such a close decision that I polled the other four county MVAL Antietam coaches (excluding the Hubs and Blazers) and they voted 3-1 for Plunkett.

A year later, and wouldn’t you know it, my utility spot (which is usually reserved for the fifth-best infielder) came down to the same two seasons. And I’m taking Schlotterbeck. Seven more hits. Two more extra-base hits. A slightly higher OPS. If referees can make make-up calls, so can I.

But wait, I still have a designated player spot open! I can put Plunkett there! Actually, no I can’t …

Katie Marrama, designated player, St. Maria Goretti

I’m taking Marrama’s senior season in 2008, a season which I rank higher than both Schlotterbeck’s and Plunkett’s. Goretti played pretty good competition back in 2008, including all the Apple Valley League schools in the Eastern Panhandle, against which Marrama, a catcher, hit .517 (30-58) with eight doubles, four homers, 22 RBIs, 18 runs scored, 12 walks, a .600 on-base percentage that ranks second to Ewing over the past 12 years, an .862 slugging percentage and a stellar 1.462 OPS. (Holy run-on sentence, Batman!)

SOME BALD DUDE’S ALL-21ST CENTURY WASHINGTON COUNTY SOFTBALL SECOND TEAM

P Alyssa Reed, Jr., Smithsburg 2004 — 9-1, 1.19 ERA, 59 innings, 9 walks, 70 Ks, 1.19 K/IP

P Adrienne Kesecker, So., Hancock 2004 — 12-4, 0.86 ERA, 98 innings, 86 hits, 5 walks, 82 Ks, 0.93 WHIP, 0.84 K/IP

P Bethany Garnand, Sr., Smithsburg 2009 — 13-6, 1.78 ERA, 129.2 innings, 92 hits, 33 ER, 45 walks, 195 Ks, 1.06 WHIP, 1.50 K/IP. Also hit .338 (22-65), 11 doubles, 16 RBIs, 7 runs, 8 walks, .411 OBP, .508 SLG, .919 OPS

C Allysen Breeden, Sr., North Hagerstown 2011 — .468 (29-62), 10 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 21 RBIs, 19 runs, 10 walks, .542 OBP, .742 SLG, 1.284 OPS

IF Ashley Gray, Sr., Boonsboro 2001 — .512 (22-43), 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers, .860 SLG

IF Breanne Lohman, So., Boonsboro 2008 — .456 (31-68), 6 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homers, 17 RBIs, 25 runs, 8 walks, .513 OBP, .794 SLG, 1.307 OPS

IF Shanan Plunkett, Jr., North Hagerstown 2010 — .421 (24-57), 5 doubles, 3 triples, 3 homers, 21 RBIs, 27 runs, 16 walks, .548 OBP, .772 SLG, 1.320 OPS

IF Destanie Agee, Sr., South Hagerstown 2010 — .510 (25-49), 4 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 10 RBIs, 17 runs, 3 walks, .538 OBP, .735 SLG, 1.273 OPS

OF Jessica Hartman, Sr., Smithsburg 2011 — .328 (21-64), 4 doubles, 3 HR, 22 RBIs, 17 runs, 8 walks, .411 OBP, .531 SLG, .942 OPS

OF Kayla Wastler, Sr., Smithsburg 2010 — .379 (22-58), 5 doubles, 1 triple, 20 RBIs, 22 runs, 2 walks, .400 OBP, .500 SLG, .900 OPS

OF Casey Siler, Sr., Williamsport 2007 — .386 (17-44), 4 doubles, 11 RBIs, 1 walk, .400 OBP, .477 SLG, .877 OPS. Note: Siler hit a game-tying three-run home run in the seventh inning of Williamsport’s Class 1A state title game, which the Wildcats won. That home run is probably my all-time favorite “I can’t believe that just happened!” moment in my career.

Util Cara Ferguson, So., Smithsburg 2011 — .463 (31-67), 5 doubles, 5 triples, 1 HR, 25 RBIs, 19 runs, 12 walks. .550 OBP, .731 SLG, 1.281 OPS

DP Lee Graff, Sr., Williamsport 2000 — .417 (20-48), 4 doubles, 5 triples, 2 homers, 23 RBIs, .833 SLG

SOME BALD DUDE’S ALL-21ST CENTURY WASHINGTON COUNTY SOFTBALL HONORABLE MENTION

PITCHERS

  • Jamie Fowler, Sr., South Hagerstown 2005 — 9-7, 1.51 ERA, 107 innings, 70 hits, 26 walks, 133 Ks, 0.90 WHIP, 1.24 K/IP
  • Alexis Fisher, Sr., Williamsport 2010 — 7-5, 1.60 ERA, 70 innings, 42 hits, 41 runs, 16 ER, 21 walks, 91 Ks, 0.90 WHIP, 1.30 K/IP
  • Stacey Yeakle, Sr., Clear Spring 2002 — 6-5, 1.75 ERA, 76 innings, 50 hits, 6 walks, 70 Ks, 0.74 WHIP, 0.92 K/IP. Also hit .431 (25-58), 9 doubles, 1 triple, 15 RBIs, .621 SLG
  • Caroline Rosenthal, Jr., St. Maria Goretti 2009 — 10-12, 1.57 ERA, 134 innings, 75 hits, 30 ER, 64 BB, 254K, 1.04 WHIP, 1.90 K/IP
  • Amber Forrest, Jr., Clear Spring 2011 — 10-7, 1.84 ERA, 106.1 innings, 87 hits, 47 runs, 28 ER, 35 walks, 111 Ks, 1.15 WHIP, 1.04 K/IP
  • Bridgette Ringley, Sr., Boonsboro 2008 — 13-5, 2.23 ERA, 116 innings, 75 hits, 37 ER, 73 walks, 154 Ks, 1.28 WHIP, 1.33 K/IP

CATCHERS

  • Hannah Leizear, Jr., Clear Spring 2009 — .436 (24-55), 9 doubles, 18 RBIs, 13 runs, 2 walks, .456 OBP, .600 SLG, 1.056 OPS
  • Kinsey Shifflett, So., Smithsburg 2011 — .422 (27-64), 7 doubles, 16 RBIs, 21 runs, 4 steals, 9 walks, .507 OBP, .531 SLG, 1.038 OPS
  • Colleen McCauley, So., St. Maria Goretti 2009 — .372 (16-43), 10 doubles, 7 RBIs, 10 runs, 10 walks, .491 OBP, .605 SLG, 1.096 OPS

INFIELDERS

  • Shayla Murray, So., Smithsburg 2010 — .463 (31-67), 10 doubles, 2 homers, 14 RBIs, 21 runs, 4 walks, .493 OBP, .701 SLG, 1.194 OPS
  • Candace Stanford, Sr., Smithsburg 2005 — .517, 5 doubles, 3 triples, 17 RBIs, 13 runs
  • Emily Middlekauff, Sr., South 2000 — .381 (24-63), 5 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers, 27 RBIs, 12 steals, .730 SLG
  • Amber Biser, Sr., Smithsburg 2000 — .475 (29-61), 4 doubles, 2 triples, 1 homer, 26 RBIs, 10 steals, .656 SLG
  • Jamie Poffenberger, Sr., Clear Spring 2003 — .512, 17 RBIs, 15 runs
  • Jaime Donato, Sr., Boonsboro 2008 — .409 (27-66), 4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homers, 26 RBIs, 15 runs, 5 walks, .451 OBP, .636 SLG, 1.087 OPS
  • Damara McDonough, Sr., Clear Spring 2010 — .460 (29-63), 7 doubles, 17 RBIs, 16 runs, 5 walks, .500 OBP, .571 SLG, 1.071 OPS
  • Jess Patey, Sr., Williamsport 2007 — .340 (17-50), 3 doubles, 5 homers, 23 RBIs, 16 runs, 6 walks, .411 OBP, .700 SLG, 1.111 OPS

OUTFIELDERS

  • Alicia Barnard, Sr., Hancock 2002 — .338, 3 triples, 3 homers, 20 RBIs
  • Jessica Bennett, Sr., Williamsport 2007 — .358 (19-53), 4 doubles, 1 triple, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, .382 OBP, .472 SLG, .854 OPS
  • Elisabeth Sharpe, Jr., South 2009 — .340 (16-47), 3 doubles, 6 RBIs, 15 runs, 13 walks, .483 OBP, .404 SLG, .887 OPS
9 comments for this entry:
  1. Missy C.

    Nice Dan! I won’t make any arguments. This was nice for looking back. I have had the pleasure of knowing or coaching so many of these kids. Not to mention being a sister to one! And the Thunder rolls…

  2. JMD

    Dan!! Seriously??? You should never pick an “All Century” team by looking at only 1 year of a player’s career…Unless that player only played 1 year of varsity softball. If your intention was to name the players that had the best single season, than change your title. Otherwise, put in a little bit of work, don’t be lazy, and compile CAREER varsity stats (of what you have available)… I bet your list changes. I don’t want to single anybody out, but you have girls on honorable mention that have 10 times the career numbers than a few of those “one season wonders” listed on your current first team roster.

  3. Dan Kauffman

    There’s a pretty large number of players for which I don’t have their final stats for every year they played varsity softball (mainly because there’s years that the stats were cut off at a .300 or .350 average, or a 2.00 or 3.00 ERA, etc.) … but yeah, if I have some more free time I’ll do a “Version 2.0″ and try to combine as much stuff as I have. I’m sure you’re right that some players who maybe didn’t have that one spectacular “peak” season but instead had 2-3 very, very good ones will be helped by combining stats. Just off the top of my head, I know Shayla Murray gets a boost.

  4. LRS

    Cant wait to see your Version 2. Although this list contains all great players it should have been on varsity stats combined not single season. If stats are combined your list would definetly change.

  5. john

    I disagree with this whole thing, because you got alot of the higher varsity stats players on honorable mention,and other lower stats players on 1st and 2nd team. I think Shayla Murray and Amber Forrest should have been on first team hands down. Terrible job for an all century list!!!!!!

  6. Dan Kauffman

    Murray will be helped with combining her three seasons. Forrest’s best single season pitching-wise isn’t close to the seasons Higgs and Beard produced.

  7. john

    But if you are going to do a list of the players of the century shouldnt they be combined totals of the varsity careers instead of one season. That would change the list alot. Gladhill wasnt even on Smithsburgs varsity last year.

  8. Dan Kauffman

    I agree that my methodology as far as using just each player’s best single season was flawed. If I have time I will go back and do another list using career stats. I love doing these things anyway … I always learn something from them.

  9. Mystress

    Exactly what were you thinking when you chose Shannon Plunket over Heather Schlotterbeck for hitter of the year for 2010-2011? You say that Plunket had more walks? Well Schlotterbeck had a better average and more hits than Plunket… It should have been a no brainer, Schlotterbeck was the best hitter in 2010-2011 season..

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