WELLINGTON — For someone who didn’t start playing fastpitch softball until she was 10 and was never on a summer travel team until she was an eighth-grader, Clearview’s Sarah Kaya caught on quickly.
Over the past four seasons, she has been an important part of the Clippers’ huge turnaround under the leadership of coach Denny Myers and his staff.
During her high school career, Kaya compiled a 59-37 record with 1,094 strikeouts. And she led the Clippers to their first Patriot Athletic Conference softball crown and appearance in a district tournament.
For her many accomplishments, the Defiance College recruit received the annual Player of the Year Award on Tuesday night before the start of the annual Lorain County Senior All-Stars Game at Wellington Community Park. The award is given each year by the Lorain County Softball Coaches Association.
“This means so much to me,” Kaya said. “This is my whole career up to this point. It all came up to this and it feels really good. The competition is really fierce because we live in a very, very competitive county, and there are so many excellent players, it just feels really good.”
Myers said Kaya and her senior teammates have played important roles in the Clippers’ turnaround.
“Sarah has been one of the leaders of that group with her pitching and hitting and everything else,” he said. “She has tons of potential. I think it’s one of those things that she probably could have gone to just about any school she wanted to. But I don’t think she was really interested in a bigger school.
Defiance should be a good fit for her.
“As long as she has fun and is enjoying herself doing it, she’ll be fine,” Myers added. “She’s the hardest worker we have on the team, has great support from her parents and she’s a super kid to coach. I wish I had more like Sarah.”
Only once — her freshman season — did Kaya post an ERA of more than 2.00.
She crafted a 10-11 record with a 2.25 ERA and 181 strikeouts that year, then improved to 18-7 with a 1.54 ERA and 292 strikeouts the following spring. As a junior, she went 14-11 with a 1.21 ERA, while striking out 340, and this season was 17-8 with a 1.89 ERA and 281 strikeouts.
She also fired two no-hitters her junior year.
Kaya also performed well at the plate, leading the team this season with a .438 batting average, including 12 doubles, a home run and 17 RBIs.
At Defiance, she will play for Jodie Holava, a former North Ridgeville High School star.
“I really like the coaching staff and the team,” Kaya said. “I decided on Defiance because it was just a combination of academics, athletics and just the setting of the school. It’s a smaller school, which is what I was looking for. Coming from Clearview, I like the smaller schools a little better. Once I met with the team, I just knew.”
Her dad, Jeff, said the award reflects his daughter’s dedication and hard work.
“She’s pretty good friends with a lot of these girls out here, and there’s a lot of respect among them. It’s a really neat thing. In Lorain County, it’s one tough team after another, so this is a great thing.”
Her mom, Denise, said Sarah has received outstanding support from her teammates.
“I’m very proud of her,” Denise said. “It means a lot to her. She works hard and she’s always composed. She would thank the team. It’s not about her, it’s about everybody around her and the support she’s gotten.”
Someone suggested that the family must have spent considerable time and energy traveling to watch her play.
“Maybe not as much as you think,” Denise said. “Sarah didn’t even start playing softball until she was 10 or 11 and she didn’t start any tournament travel ball until she was 13.”
Kaya will play for the Elyria-based Sundogs this summer.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorain County Players of the Year
2014 — Sarah Kaya, Clearview
2013 — Caitlyn Minney, Elyria
2012 — Erin Pond, Keystone
2011 — Sydney Mencke, Midview
2010 — Jen Solanics, Columbia