October 20, 2014

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She’s the one: Keystone’s Kenzie Conrad named country’s top high school softball player by MaxPreps website

LAGRANGE — Another day, another honor. They just keep coming for Keystone’s state championship softball team.

Kenzie Conrad, a major force in the Wildcats’ unbeaten run to the Division II state title June 2, was named national high school player of the year Tuesday by MaxPreps, an online affiliate of CBS Sports.com.

It is the first time an Ohioan has been a national high school player of the year in softball.

The MaxPreps Website also said Conrad has been named to its All-America first team and that Keystone shortstop Erin Pond was a second-team selection.

Only a day earlier, Conrad was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America first team. Pond was a second-team selection and catcher Bri Buckley was named to the NFCA third team.

“When I woke up this morning, I saw a text from coach (Jim) Piazza,” Conrad said. “My mom (Lois) came in and showed it to me and all I could do was look at it and just kind of laugh because it’s so amazing everything that’s happened.”

“Same thing for me,” her dad, Mike Conrad, said. “I told my wife about it and it was kind of surreal. You’re kind of amazed, surprised and we’re obviously very proud of her.”

An article about Conrad on the MaxPreps site said:

“When it comes to credentials, Keystone senior Kenzie Conrad has a resume full of them.

“The MaxPreps National Softball Player of the Year was a standout in the circle and at the plate for the nation’s No. 1 team, helping the Wildcats to an undefeated season at 32-0.”

A list of honors and accomplishments the Wildcats have produced this year is positively encyclopedic in length.

They were No. 1 in the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s Division II poll from start to finish. They won their third state championship to go with titles in 1999 and 2006. Conrad and Pond were first-team All-Ohio selections and Buckley was named to the second team.

On June 5, Pond was named the Lorain County Softball Coaches Association player of the year and, two weeks later, Conrad was honored as Lorain County Miss Softball for 2012.

The team was honored on the floor of the Ohio Senate in Columbus, Conrad was chosen by Gatorade as the Ohio softball player of the year, seven of the Wildcats were named
first-team All-Patriot Athletic Conference and All-Lorain County and Piazza was the county’s Division II coach of the year.

And Keystone has been selected as the best high school softball team in the country by two polls, MaxPreps and NFCA-USA Today.

A lot of attention has been focused on Conrad, but her parents said none of it has changed her.

“Absolutely, she has kept her feet on the ground,” Mike Conrad said. “Quite honestly if she didn’t, her mother and I would make sure that she did. As I said, it’s all been very humbling along the way.”

Conrad is a University of Akron recruit and, coincidentally, so is Pond, her longtime friend and teammate.

“Akron was the only school that really believed in me,” she said. “I wasn’t really looking at a lot of different schools and a lot of schools weren’t really looking at me. Things really started to get better for me the past couple of years and I’m just glad that Akron (and coach Julie Jones) saw that in me.”

When the state championship game with Greenville got down to its final pitches, a Keystone cheering section dressed in Wildcats purple and white stood to watch Conrad get the final out.

“That’s something I really remember — that moment and looking up into the stands,” she said. “I clearly remember taking a step back and telling myself, ‘You’re never going to be in this moment again. Take it in while you’re here.’”

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or softball@bobdaniels.info.