VERMILION — Keystone shortstop Erin Pond was one key to a season that saw the Wildcats go undefeated through 32 games and win the school’s third state championship.
Her .510 batting average led the team. It included 11 doubles, a team-best five triples and nine home runs that were second only to pitcher Kenzie Conrad’s 11. Pond drove in 47 runs, stole 13 bases and finished the year with an on-base percentage of .598.
For all of that, the Lorain County Softball Coaches Association named Pond its Player of the Year on Tuesday night at Shelly Steele Field in Vermilion. The presentation was made before the 26th annual Lorain County Softball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game.
Until this season, the honor was known as the Lorain County Miss Softball Award. The name was changed to avoid confusion with another Miss Softball award, which is sponsored annually by Elyria Coca-Cola. The 2012 presentation will be made at a time to be announced.
“This means everything in the world,” Pond said of the honor. “I’ve worked hard ever since I was little, but I never thought I’d be awarded something as great as this. It’s almost as good as winning the state championship. It’s close.
“It’s been incredible, absolutely incredible,” Pond said of her senior season. “I was talking to friends today and I said I wish we could start tomorrow with our open gyms and just live everything over again. It’s just outstanding. There isn’t really a word for it.”
She said the significance of her contributions to the team’s success — conference, sectional, district, regional and state championships and now the Player of the Year award — hasn’t fully registered in her mind.
“I’m still completely numb,” Pond said. “I can’t cry. I can pretty much just smile. I can’t wait for it to sink in.”
Pond and her outstanding four-year varsity career have most likely sunk in with Wildcats fans.
Even as a freshman, she batted .371 with six doubles, two triples and a home run. Her batting average improved to .465 her sophomore season and to .539 as a junior.
“It’s impossible to say just how valuable Erin’s contributions have been,” Wildcats coach Jim Piazza said. “Even in the context of a team where every player contributed something of significance to our success this year, her hitting, fielding and leadership by example have been outstanding.”
And so have her career numbers.
Pond, a University of Akron recruit, batted .473 for her career (190 hits in 402 at-bats). She hit 47 doubles, 14 triples and 22 home runs. She holds the school record for runs scored and RBIs in a career. She is second in career hits behind Kara Dill, now the starting shortstop at Kentucky, and in homers behind Conrad.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.