LAGRANGE — Since 1992, the first year it was given, 26 players have earned the Lorain County Miss Softball award.
On Tuesday night, Keystone’s celebrated program added its 11th Miss Softball.
The honor went to Carleigh Herrington, a senior infielder-designated player, who finished her four-year career with a .425 batting average. In the process of putting up impressive statistics, Herrington earned a softball scholarship to Division I Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference.
For her many accomplishments, including a crucial RBI triple in Keystone’s 2012 state championship victory over Greenville, Herrington was presented the Miss Softball plaque by Gregory Finton of Elyria Coca-Cola, which sponsors it. The ceremony took place at the annual team banquet in Keystone’s cafeteria-auditorium.
The announcement caught Herrington by surprise.
“Oh, my gosh, I was so shocked,” she said. “I had absolutely no idea that was going to happen. I’ve never been so caught off guard in my life. This is an honor. I can’t believe it, I’m in shock. It means so much to me and I just want to thank everyone who helped me get there.
“My first reaction — when everybody was, like, yelling ‘speech’ — was just ‘thank you’ to everybody because you can’t do this by yourself,” said Herrington, who plans to major in chemistry at Eastern Michigan.
“You know, my family, my friends, my coaches are the reason I was able to perform well. They pushed me to do well and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to.”
Wildcats coach Jim Piazza said Herrington’s selection means a lot to the program.
“This is huge,” said Piazza, whose team went 27-4 this spring and won its 27th district title, 13th in a row. “For our younger kids, this just gives them something to strive for. For Carleigh, her stats this year were down a little bit, but only because people were pitching around her.
“So we had to protect her and put her in a different (batting) spot later in the season so they had to pitch to her, and her numbers started skyrocketing.”
Herrington batted .381 this season with 10 doubles, two triples and two home runs for a .435 on-base percentage. She also recorded 28 RBIs and made just one error.
Herrington’s .425 career batting average included 21 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers and 90 RBIs. In four years, she had 110 total hits and scored 68 runs. During her four years, Keystone won four Patriot Athletic Conference, sectional and district championships, two regional titles and the 2012 Division II state championship.
The 2012 squad was also chosen the No. 1 team in the country in two national polls. Herrington has been named to all-conference, Lorain County and Northeast District first teams, received all-state honors as a junior and senior, and twice was chosen all-region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
“I’m so happy because I remember her being an uncoordinated kid who came in and worked hard, and came up and played a lot of varsity time as a freshman,” Piazza said. “I’m just extremely happy for her and her dad. He’s done countless things for her and helped her get to where she is.”
Herrington’s dad, Scott, said Carleigh’s award resulted from her dedication.
“This means the world to me,” he said. “She’s just worked so hard all her life. She’s the kind of kid who puts the time in and doesn’t shy from hard work. She’s kept up with her schooling and never missed an opportunity to work out in the gym. To watch her grow and evolve over the years, I’m so proud of her.”
Earlier this month, Clearview pitcher Sarah Kaya received the county’s other major softball honor, Player of the Year as selected by the Lorain County Softball Coaches Association.
In the 23-year history of the Miss Softball award, two players have shared it three times — in 1994, 1996 and 2009.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miss Softball award winners
2014 — Carleigh Herrington, Keystone
2013 — Caitlyn Minney, Elyria
2012 — Kenzie Conrad, Keystone
2011 — Kristen Boros, Elyria
2010 — Melissa Rennie, Wellington
2009 — Tess Sito, Elyria and Kara Dill, Keystone
2008 — Jillian Van Wagnen, Admiral King
2007 — Sarah Stromack, Keystone
2006 — Kristie Malinkey, Keystone
2005 — Alex Boros, Elyria
2004 — Christina Swiers, Amherst
2003 — Brittney Robinson, Keystone
2002 — Jess Jesko, Firelands
2001 — Megan Meyer, Vermilion
2000 — Lacey Reichert, Amherst
1999 — Amie Leffew, Keystone
1998 — Rachel Baran, Firelands
1997 — Kim Evans, Keystone
1996 — Laura Dragan, North Ridgeville and Tammy Yount, Elyria
1995 — Jamie Cendrosky, Keystone
1994 — Amy Johnson, Keystone and Sarah Martin, Keystone
1993 — Ashley Anderson, Elyria
1992 — Heather Zehel, Amherst and Cassie Wilmoth, Firelands