"I will never forget that. It's the first triple play I've ever been involved in, it's something big in my softball career," she said.

As talented as she is both defensively and at the plate, Allen's speed may be the most dazzling. She credits Glenelg's indoor track coaches for improving her technique. "You can't teach speed but they taught me how to run, they taught me form," she explained.

Allen has verbally committed to play for Kent State University after she graduates in 2013. The northeastern Ohio campus and coaches were so inviting that she wants to be part of the Golden Flashes' softball program. Kent's baseball team just finished its best season, playing in the College World Series for the first time, and Allen wants the softball program to be successful, too.

Allen said she's a history buff, and the tragic events at the school in 1970 during a Vietnam War protest solidified her interest in the school. "I visited the memorial. It is one of the things I made sure I stopped at," said Allen, who plans to major in communications.


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Named to the all-county first team:

Pitchers

Kensey O'Neill, Howard, senior. O'Neill "stepped up this year as a true leader," on both offense and defense, said coach Chuck Rice. The ace of the Lions' pitching staff won nine games — including one perfect game — and played second when she wasn't in the circle. Always calm and composed, she had an ERA of 1.069, struck out 86 and gave up just 11 earned runs. She was stingy with free passes, too, allowing just 13 after facing 280 batters. At the plate, she averaged .480, with four doubles. "Her knowledge of the game will be truly missed," Rice said.

O'Neill has been a fixture on the first team for the last three years, and was a second-team selection as a freshman.

Rachel Brown, Reservoir, senior. Brown pitched every inning of every game and helped the Gators win their first title — a Class 3A regional championship — in softball. "Rachel was absolutely solid on the mound this year," and is the first Gator to win 20 games in a season, said coach Julie Frisvold. Brown "could keep cool under pressure and get key strike outs." She struck out 112 and set the tone for the Gators from the first pitch of the game. At the plate, she averaged .392, knocked in 18 runs and had five doubles.

"Rachel time and time again was able to come through late in games with big hits," said Frisvold.

Catcher

Hannah Force, Hammond, senior. Force was a powerhouse at the plate, batting .451 and knocking in 30 runs, and led the county in extra-base hits — 12 doubles, four triples and three home runs. Her biggest hit may have been a game-winning home run in an upset win over Howard late in the season.

"Offensively, she's been one of the most feared hitters in the county for four years," said coach Brad Speierman. With "a potent offense around her," pitchers had to throw to her, he added. "She made many of them pay the price with triples and home runs."

The senior started the season at short for the Golden Bears but moved behind the plate for the second half. She's "one of the most enjoyable players I've ever had the privileged of coaching," said Speierman.

First base

Sage McGrann, Howard, senior. "Sage was the go-to player when the game was on the line," said coach Chuck Rice. From the fourth slot in the lineup, McGrann led the team offensively in average (.514), hits (38), doubles (eight) and triples (two), and extra-base hits (10), and had the second-best on-base percentage (.556). She also knocked in 26 runs. The first baseman was the cornerstone for Howard's outstanding defense that carried the team to the Class 3B regional finals.

McGrann has been a first-team all-county player twice, and was second-team once.

Infield

Alli Bluhm, Mt. Hebron sophomore. Bluhm, a Player of the Year nominee, "had one of the best offensive years of any player I have coached," said Chuck Struhar. The shortstop led the county in average (.600), was second only to Hannah Force in total extra-base hits (16), and tied with two others for most triples (four). Bluhm, with 36 hits and 12 doubles, had an "unreal" slugging percentage of .933, said Struhar. "She was an extra-base hit machine." Defensively, she's a "very sound shortstop with great range. She possesses a quiet leadership," he added.

Amy Bresson, Reservoir, senior. Another Player of the Year candidate, this shortstop was "the anchor of our team," said Julie Frisvold. Bresson did not commit an error and, both offensively and defensively, "came through time and time again under pressure to help us" record the school's best season in its history, Frisvold said. Bresson, who will play at Lynchburg College next year, batted cleanup, hit .418 and led the Gators in doubles (nine).