When it's time to pick a Player of the Year, that's what we strive for — Player of the Year. We do our absolute best to avoid Co-Players of the Year.
But sometimes, it's unavoidable.
After careful analysis, there just wasn't enough separation between Kecoughtan's Allyson Babinsack and York's Lia Batchelor. So for the first time since 1992, when Poquoson's Kim Pankoke and Phoebus' Jennifer Diggs shared it, we have Co-Players of the Year in softball.
Overall, you could make the case that Babinsack had the statistical edge. She hit .580 with eight home runs and 31 RBI. Her on-base percentage from the leadoff spot was .736.
Her power is so remarkable that when Woodside coach Mike Tallon tried to intentionally walk her in the Monitor-Merrimac Conference semifinals, she homered anyway by reaching out to stick the ball over the fence in right-center field.
"And she didn't get all of it, either," Tallon said. "That pitch was probably two feet outside, and she just got a piece of it. She's just such a tough out."
Also a leadoff hitter, Batchelor batted .591 with two homers, 25 RBI and a .609 OBP. But what helps make her case is her defense in center field. Few tried to score from second on a single up the middle, and those who did were usually erased.
"You don't run on her," Warhill coach Meredith Powell said. "She's one of those players who really is a triple threat with offense, defense and how she leads the team. She really sparked that team."
Next spring, they'll be playing on the college level — Babinsack at Hampton University, Batchelor at Campbell. And in each of their media-guide bios, it can say "Daily Press Co-Player of the Year."
Pitcher | Maddy Morris | Kecoughtan | junior. After committing to Georgetown, Morris had a terrific junior season by winning 12 of 15 decisions and striking out 173 of the 374 batters she faced. Her ERA was 0.98 and she threw six shutouts. An all-state pick.
Pitcher | Molly Rogerson | York | sophomore. An amazing breakthrough season included a .556 batting average but, more importantly, a 13-3 pitching record that included two wins over Smithfield, two over Grafton and another over New Kent as the Falcons won their first district title in 19 years.
Pitcher | Kayley Cox | Grafton | sophomore. Like Molly Rogerson, she was a revelation this season in pitching the Clippers into the 4A state tournament semifinals. Went 12-3 with a 1.27 ERA while limiting opposition batters to a .200 average.
Catcher | Bridget Henzel | Warhill | senior. Recognized by softball coaches nationally with All-South Region honors, after committing nary an error and allowing just two passed balls and no stolen bases. Hit well, too, with a .449 average.
Infielder | Hannah Olson | Grafton | senior. Bound for Division I Elon, she was the Conference 19 Player of the Year and a 4A South Region Co-Player of the Year. The Clippers' defensive anchor at shortstop, she batted .460 with 40 hits, 30 runs, 24 RBI, 12 doubles and four home runs.
Infielder | Madison Lane | Warwick | senior. The Raiders' only senior batted .469 with one home run (she nearly hit another out at Gloucester's spacious field) and 12 RBI. She also had a .962 fielding percentage at first base.
Infielder | Maddie Rogerson | York | senior. One of the best combinations of bat and glove in the area, Rogerson batted .522 with 11 doubles and made only one error at first base all season. She was involved in eight double plays, three of which she turned herself.
Infielder | Kelsey Sweeney | Menchville | senior. The future Longwood Lancer had another fine season by hitting .413 with a home run, 22 RBI and 21 runs in 23 games. She also had a .948 fielding percentage at shortstop.
Outfielder | Emily Beyer | Grafton | senior. Acrobatic catches in center field included one in which she flipped over the fence. The 4A All-State selection's hitting numbers were stellar: .449 average, 35 hits, 25 runs, 29 RBI, seven doubles, three triples and three home runs.
Outfielder | Chanisse Francis | Woodside | sophomore. She led the Wolverines in just about everything, including batting average (.440) and on-base percentage (.588). She also stole 37 bases (that's legit), including 12 swipes of third. Threw out two runners at the plate.
Outfielder | Shelby Alto | Gloucester | junior. Though the Dukes missed the postseason, Alto had a strong season by hitting .506 and scoring 37 runs as Gloucester's leadoff hitter. She also drove in 14 runs. Goes into her senior year with more than 100 hits.
Utility | Sydney Gay | Smithfield | junior. Stats aren't available, but it's a cinch that Gay, who virtually never strikes out fewer than 10 batters, led the district in K's. She's also one of the Bay Rivers' most powerful and productive hitters, and will play on scholarship in Division I at Longwood University.
Utility | Colby Norris | Warhill | junior. A three-year starter, she continued to shine in 2014, earning All-3A East Region first-team honors with a .524 batting average. Played some outfield and struck out 100 batters in 100 innings pitched.
Designated hitter | Morgan Haywood | Gloucester | sophomore. She had some issues in the pitching circle that need to be ironed out but none at the plate, where she hit .438 with 27 RBI. Excellent power with her swing.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun