Jul. 30—If you want to know which four squads possessed the most talent in the area this past season, look no further than the All-Area first team.
Allegany and Bishop Walsh placed three each on the top squad, and Keyser and Petersburg slotted two players apiece.
The Campers captured the Maryland Class 1A state championship, their third in school history, with a perfect 18-0 season. The Spartans (20-6) and Golden Tornado (30-5) set school records in wins, and the Vikings (20-4) climbed all the way to the West Virginia Class A state championship game.
Moorefield and Northern landed one player each on the top squad, and eight schools made up the 11 players on the second team.
Twelve area head coaches nominated players for the All-Area team, and eight coaches returned ballots.
Pitchers Alexa Uphold, Allegany, Sr.
In her only season at Allegany High School, Uphold proved to be a perfect fit.
Uphold, a transfer from Northern who is signed to continue her career at Davis & Elkins, went a perfect 8-0 in the circle and had the lowest ERA in the area at 0.31.
The senior righthander allowed just two earned runs on 16 hits in 45 innings pitched with 74 strikeouts and nine walks. Uphold was no slouch in the box either, batting .426 with four doubles, four home runs, 26 runs batted in and 22 runs scored.
"Alexa was a huge part of our team," Allegany head coach Dave Winner said. "She's an awesome pitcher. Alexa and Abi (Britton) pushed each other. They supported each other. Alexa came in, did a wonderful job and she fit in really well with the girls. The girls really respected her.
"The younger girls looked up to her a little bit, and she talked to them and helped them when they needed it. She was a leader. She was a great addition to the team. If you have two pitchers like that, you're in pretty good shape.
"She also had a very productive offensive season. Alexa batted fourth most of the year. Her attitude and work ethic were very good too. She'll have success at Davis & Elkins, too, because she'll continue to work."
Chloe Greise, Bishop Walsh, Jr.
With Greise the ace in the circle, Bishop Walsh has set school records for wins both seasons. That's no coincidence.
The right-handed pitcher notched an 18-5 record on the rubber and logged the third-lowest ERA in the area at 1.07. Her 180 strikeouts and 143 2/3 innings pitched were both high marks locally.
Offensively, Greise showed a little power in her junior campaign, bashing nine home runs to tie teammate Bailee Greise and Keyser standout Alexa Shoemaker for the second-most dingers in the area.
Chloe Greise ended the campaign, in which Bishop Walsh went 20-6, with a .434 batting average, five doubles and 35 RBIs.
"Chloe threw tremendously for us," Bishop Walsh head coach Chris Greise said. "She threw well big in the big games. She came every day ready to throw.
"She hits her spots, which creates ground balls. We have a very good defense behind Chloe. Her velocity, she throws between 58 and 61, but it's the movement, the off-balance, the off-pace and the defense behind her (that make her successful)."
Abi Britton, Allegany, So.
What hasn't been said about Britton by now? The sophomore standout struck out 2.3 batters an inning in the circle, and hit safely in more than 3 of 5 at-bats at the plate. It's no surprise she was voted Player of the Year by the area's coaches.
Britton went 10-0 with a 0.39 ERA, surrendering just three earned runs on 16 hits in 54 innings pitched, fanning 123 and walking six. Offensively, Britton led the area in average and home runs with a .636 mark and 10 long balls to go along with eight doubles, 40 RBIs and 22 runs scored.
Catcher Braylee Corbin, Petersburg, Jr.
In an area filled with talented players behind the plate, Corbin received the lion's share of recognition for her work as a catcher, and it's not hard to figure out why.
Corbin, who also made the All-Area girls basketball first team after guiding Petersburg to the Class AA state semifinals, ended her junior season with a .478 batting average, nine doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 32 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
"Braylee's biggest thing is she's a quiet leader," Petersburg head coach Bubba Hedrick said. "She usually leads by example. She was my No. 3 hitter, and she was a power hitter, so she gave us a few home runs this year. Just a good leader for us. A talented catcher.
"She's just a hard worker. Good kid to coach, never gives you a problem and she's very dependable. Well-liked by her teammates."
Infielders Mackenzie Kitzmiller, Petersburg, Sr.
Kitzmiller had a knack for playing her best softball in big moments, and that was most on display in Petersburg's narrow loss to Keyser.
Down by two runs with the Vikings down to their final out, Kitzmiller launched a two-run homer over the left-field bleachers to tie the game, though the Golden Tornado would win it in extras.
The Petersburg senior was second on the Class A state runner-up Vikings with a .447 average, doubling eight times, tripling twice, homering four times, driving in 19 runs and scoring 23 times herself.
"Sissy was a solid player," Hedrick said. "What I liked about her, over her career we have moved her around. It didn't matter where we put her. She would play wherever we needed. This year was second base, and she was also my lead-off hitter. She really did a tremendous job leading off.
"Typically, your lead-off hitters aren't your power kids, but she provided some pop out of the lead-off spot. She's a good teammate like Braylee, we're going to miss her."
Alexa Shoemaker, Keyser, Sr.
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the 2020 season, Shoemaker likely would've been a four-time All-Area first-team selection. Instead, she'll have to settle for three.
Shoemaker set just about every career and single-season offensive record that Keyser High School has to offer.
Over her three seasons, Shoemaker established new career records in batting average (.561), home runs (31), runs scored (143), runs batted in (144), and she tied Lexi Carr with 166 hits, doing so in one fewer season.
Shoemaker's .598 batting average this season tied the all-time mark set by Carr in 2013. Her 64 base hits and 53 runs scored as a senior are a record, and the 16 home runs and 60 RBIs she recorded as a junior are single-season high marks.
In Shoemaker's final season before heading crosstown to WVU Potomac State to play for Craig Rotruck, the shortstop garnered seven doubles, five triples, nine home runs and drove in 54 runs to guide Keyser to the region finals.
"She's put a lot of hard work and effort into playing softball," Keyser head coach Chris Shoemaker said. "She was able to transfer that onto the field for the three years that she got to play.
"She set out when she started to be one of the best players ever at Keyser. Her statistics say that she was pretty successful in striving to that goal.
"I think with her work ethic, she'll be successful at Potomac State. She might struggle at first, but she'll work hard enough to be successful. She's excited to get started there in a couple weeks."
Bailee Greise, Bishop Walsh, Jr.
Greise was a handful in the middle of the Bishop Walsh order, frequently attacking the gaps to produce extra-base hits with regularity. In a 26-game season, the junior had 22.
With a .477 batting average, 12 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 40 runs batted in, Greise was an obvious choice for an All-Area infield spot.
"Defensively, Bailee is solid. She's been playing the position since 10u," Chris Greise said. "At the plate, she's a hitter, she sees the ball very well. She listens well at practice and gets one percent better each practice.
"From top to bottom, all nine hitters are a tool, so to speak, in the line-up. Bailee is definitely going to put the ball in play for you."
Avery Miller, Allegany, Fr.
By landing on the All-Area softball first team, Miller completed the trifecta, appearing on the top squad in three sports as a freshman — soccer, basketball and softball. And that's not to mention her track exploits, as she earned a pair of state titles in the spring.
On the softball field, the first-year Allegany second baseman was second on the Campers with a .480 batting average with four doubles, two triples, five home runs, 13 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
"Avery is just an athlete," Winner said. "At the start of the year, I'd never seen her play softball before. I figured with her speed and quickness she'd be really good for us. But she also had a little power, and she batted first or second most of the year. With her speed, if she hits the ball in the gap it's a double or a triple.
"She's also coming to practice and killing herself after she ran sprints and ran with track beforehand. You'd never know. She has a great attitude.
"It's unusual for an athlete to be as good as she is at softball, soccer, basketball and track. She had to sacrifice, she missed two things she could've ran at the state championship to play in the softball championship."
Outfielders Courtney Adams, Bishop Walsh, Sr.
Adams is slated to join Shoemaker at WVU Potomac State this season, and it's not hard to figure out why.
In her senior season atop Haystack Mountain, Adams led Bishop Walsh and all outfielders in the area with a .495 average at the dish, adding eight doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 29 runs batted in.
Adams also possesses a cannon in the field, so baserunners beware, run at your own risk.
"She just loves softball," Chris Greise said. "Her velocity is second to none overhand in the area. She's also a kid who listens. She does what you want her to do, she listens, and that's what makes her the way she is."
Kylee Barnes, Northern, Sr.
Barnes capped off her high school career at Northern with another All-Area recognition. The senior was also a soccer first-team selection as a defensive midfielder, and she was an honorable mention in basketball.
Barnes, who received the Outstanding Senior Athlete award at Northern, ended her final softball season with a .373 batting average, five doubles, one triple, seven RBIs and 25 runs scored. Her speed and bunting ability from the left side of the plate made her one of the most effective lead-off hitters in the area.
"I thought she had a wonderful season," Northern head coach Alisa Miller said. "I think she's one of the best outfielders I've seen play the game. She judges the ball well, she's fast to the ball. Very good team leader.
"She led off hitting. She could bunt off any pitcher, she could hit hard if we asked to her hit. Many coaches from other teams said she's one of the hardest players to get out when she bunts the ball."
Sterling Kump, Moorefield, Jr.
Kump, a West Virginia second-team All-State selection, made the All-Area first team after helping Moorefield to a 14-14 record. Kump did it all for the Yellow Jackets, using her height to her advantage both at first base and in the outfield.
The 5-foot-11 junior finished the 2022 spring season with a .388 batting average, 10 doubles, two triples and 29 runs batted in.
"Sterling has a very positive attitude," Moorefield head coach Bridget Sions said. "She works very hard at everything she does. She's a very good role model in the classroom and on the field. She really was on fire with her bat and she played a solid glove.
"I could really put her anywhere. She's extremely tall, so she could stretch to stop throws that were a little high. And her height also makes going for a ball in the gap easier than it really is. If she's at first base, she can do a good job, and I'm confident she can do that anywhere I put her.
"Sterling worked really hard at tracking the ball. At the beginning, she had a couple at-bats where she was swinging too soon or chasing pitches, but she worked on tracking it. With how tall she is, she has a really big strike zone. She did a good job of making sure she got her pitch."
Flex Rylee Mangold, Keyser, Fr.
Mangold burst onto the scene with a monster freshman season, giving Keyser a fearsome pitching arsenal alongside All-Area second-teamer Charity Wolfe.
The right-hander compiled a 13-3 win-loss record, 1.54 ERA and allowed 21 earned runs on 55 hits in 95 2/3 innings of work, striking out 171 and walking 31.
Mangold's 171 strikeouts broke the previous single-season record set by Wolfe (168) during her sophomore campaign.
Mangold also limited eventual Maryland Class 1A state champion Allegany to its lowest offensive production of the season, holding the Campers to just two runs in seven innings, although Keyser fell in extra innings.
Offensively, Mangold batted .301 with six doubles, two triples, six home runs, 31 runs batted in and 26 runs scored.
"She came in as a freshman and we had high expectations," Chris Shoemaker said. "We know her work ethic, she puts time into her pitching, going to pitching instructors to get better. She lived up to everything that we expected of her. She went out there with a lot of different pitches, kept hitters off-balance.
"She can throw about every pitch. It's kind of like the batters are guessing, she can change the eye level side-to-side and up and down. She has such good spin on the ball, it just takes off once it gets to the hitter."
Eight teams are represented by the 11 players that appear on the second team. The pitchers are Fort Hill senior Ally Myers, a Frostburg State signee, Keyser junior Charity Wolfe and Petersburg sophomore Sammy Colaw. The catcher is power-hitting Keyser freshman Tayler Likens.
The infield is occupied by seniors Emily Durst of Northern and Mickala Taylor of Petersburg and freshmen Adison Pritts of Frankfort and Ava Strother of Allegany.
In the outfield, Keyser junior Averi Everline, Frankfort junior Larae Grove and Mountain Ridge freshman Jaianna Wickline made the second team.
Pitchers: Tori Pratt, East Hardy; Avery Noel, Frankfort. Catchers: Emma Heishman, East Hardy; Riley Gallagher, Allegany; Emily Wilson, Fort Hill. Infielders: Kaylie Hall, Hampshire; Emily Kuykendall, Carlee Haines, Makenna Crites, Moorefield; Aly Smith, Morgan Pratt, Keyser; Kylie Hook, Allegany; Olivia Looker, Fort Hill; Gracie Maust, Northern. Outfielders: Skyler Porter, Allegany; Marissa Ward, Moorefield; Izzy Kendall, Bishop Walsh; Koley Richard, Southern.