The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

June 27, 2014

Area stars put up impressive numbers

Register-Herald Player of the Year candidates selected

They’ve got the stats.

They’ve got the respect.

The five nominees for The Register-Herald’s inaugural Softball Player of the Year award stood out, not just for their big batting or pitching numbers, but for their leadership.

Each held her team together when the going got rough. The nominees were respected, not just by their own teams, but throughout the state. All five earned first-team all-state honors in their respective divisions from the W.Va. Sports Writers Association.

Looking at each, alphabetically:

n Kelsey Bird, Valley Fayette — The area’s finest catcher, Bird threw out seven runners at second base and picked off three players. She batted a stellar .523 with six home runs and 30 runs batted in, and only struck out one time at the plate. The Lady Greyhounds senior had three hits for the South in the North-South softball game last week.

n Cassie Blankenship, Westside — A flamethrowing junior right-hander, Blankenship struck out 137 batters while compiling a 15-4 mark with a 2.01 earned run average. In the Region 3 final, she fanned nine hard-hitting James Monroe batters in a 1-0 victory that sent the Lady Renegades to the Class AA state tournament. Blankenship batted .350 for Westside (18-4).

n Victoria Krystynak, Greenbrier East — The right-hander saved her best for last, compiling an 11-1 record with a 1.87 ERA for the 18-4 Lady Spartans in her senior campaign. She had one save, struck out 106 and walked just 30 batters. She also batted .486 with seven doubles.

n Laine Shiflett, James Monroe — It would be hard to top the junior third baseman’s stats: .700 batting average with 10 home runs, 53 RBIs, 43 runs and 18 doubles. Shiflett had an on-base percentage of .722. She struck out only twice and stole 15 bases for good measure for the 18-10 Lady Mavericks.

n Kaitlin Sisler, Fayetteville — The junior held the Lady Pirates together during a rough first part of the season, then soared down the stretch. She batted .478 with six home runs and seven doubles, while in the circle she struck out 112 opponents in 153 innings.

The Register-Herald Player of the Year will be announced in Monday’s paper.

— E-mail: dstillwell

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