All-Area Softball: Lewis adds to trophy Case: Cole, Sullivan and Lions coach each earn All-Area honors

·8 min read

Jun. 19—CANNONSBURG — Lewis County had extra time to enjoy its latest trip to the state tournament.

Friday night turned into Saturday morning under the bright lights at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington. The Lions engaged Harrison County in an unyielding pitching and defensive battle that lasted 13 innings.

It was a game that befitted the moment and the atmosphere. After three-plus grueling hours, the outcome did not move in Lewis County's favor, but the Lions will have a lifetime to savor the history they made this season.

"I always wanted to be a high school coach," Lewis County coach Chad Case said. "To have the opportunity to win a district and region championship, those are things that don't come easy. To walk on that field at John Cropp Stadium, it was amazing to me. I can't imagine what it was like for them. For my young daughter, Kaylen, who is a freshman, it was huge to me to look at her, and see how she was feeling.

"Those kids would come in the huddle during the state tournament game," he added, "and you could see it in their eyes just how good it felt to be there. It made it pretty special."

After winning their first 16th Region Tournament championship in 2021 and advancing to the state semifinals, the Lions duplicated the region feat. Lewis County won 31 games, a mark that sailed past the school record for victories in single season for any varsity sport.

"It was just awesome to break records with your teammates," Emily Cole said. "You can enjoy it all year and it's something special that you will always remember."

"We have accomplished a lot," Kayla Sullivan added. "There were so many things that our team did really well."

Case was named The Daily Independent All-Area Coach of the Year. Cole and Sullivan took home Pitcher of the Year and Position Player of the Year honors, respectively.

Case won the award in his first year at the helm of the Lions. After following in the footsteps of Vanceburg royalty with veteran coach Joe Hampton, Case guided the program to new heights in 2022.

"I followed them all season long last year," Case said, "and then you got a coach like Joe Hampton, who is a 30-year coach, and he wins Coach of the Year last season. This is something I didn't really expect, but it's really an honor. I have to give credit to these kids for the hard work they put in to put me in a position to where I'm at today."

Cole tallied 257 pitches, the most she has ever hurled in one game, against Harrison County at the state tournament. The junior posted a 30-4 record with 431 strikeouts, including her 1,000th career punchout in Lexington, and a 0.83 ERA.

The Marshall commit picked up another region tournament MVP trophy last month. Cole finished with a .531 batting average and led the Lions with 41 RBIs.

"It's a game that we will always remember," Cole said about the contest against Harrison County. "It's the longest game we have ever played. It was a hard-fought game and a fun atmosphere.

"I felt like I've gotten stronger," she continued. "It's with the help of my teammates hitting and getting me up early in the game. It helps me relax when I pitch."

Sullivan became one of the top hitters in the commonwealth this year with her .608 average at the plate. Unfortunately, the junior center fielder had to sit out the first-round game at the state tournament after suffering a shoulder injury the day before in practice.

"We could have won that game," Sullivan said. "I was screaming in the dugout (for my team) the whole time. During that game, I was begging coach to let me play, but he wouldn't let me."

Sullivan added a power aspect to her game. She collected 32 extra-base hits and eight home runs. She also used her speed to put herself in scoring position. Sullivan stole 42 bases and scored 64 runs, which ranked third in the state.

"I hit literally every single day," Sullivan said. "I hit before practice, and I hit after practice. It was always a daily thing for me."

Case said the duo's leadership was one of the main contributors to the season's longevity and success.

"(Sullivan) is one of those kids that takes a team and puts them on her back," Cole said. "She hits leadoff and usually has a 3-for-4 or 4-for-4 game. She is very smart on the bases and finds ways to score.

"When Emily steps in the circle, you have a chance to win the ball game," he added. "When you put those two together, it makes for a really great duo. They've stood out all year long."

Bath County leads the All-Area team with four members after a 29-9 season and a 61st District Tournament championship.

Diamond Wills (.448) and Taylor Hodson (.455) both batted over .400. Wills added a team-high 61 runs.

Kirsten Vice was steady in the circle, amassing 28 wins. Ashlee Rogers belted 11 home runs and posted 68 RBIs — third on the state list.

Boyd County accrued 23 wins and advanced to the region tournament semifinals behind the talented trio of Alex Blanton, Sara Bays and Jaycie Goad.

All three hit over .400. Bays won 14 games in the circle. Goad hit nine home runs and tied for the team lead in RBIs with Bays at 36.

Blanton collected 18 stolen bases and 39 runs.

Five different schools put a pair of members on the All-Area club.

Johnson Central's Mayson Delong (.486 average, eight doubles) and Randi Delong (.423 average, nine home runs) guided their team to another 15th Region Tournament title before falling to No. 1 Ballard in the opening round of the state tournament.

East Carter's Audrey Manning and Karsen Prichard elevated the Raiders to a customary place: a 62nd District Tournament championship.

Manning batted .505 to lead the region semifinalists and knocked in 31 runs. Prichard stole 49 bases and crossed home plate 45 times.

Lawrence County led the 15th Region with 29 wins. Kensley Feltner, the reigning All-Area girls basketball Player of the Year, continued to put up big numbers on the diamond, along with teammate Dani Crum.

Feltner and Crum each hit a team-high six home runs and combined for 21 doubles and 77 RBIs.

The Rowan County duo of Haven Ford and Lauryn Eastham were both .400 hitters and accounted for 84 Viking runs. Rowan County would not go quietly in the postseason. They extended the 61st District Tournament title game against Bath County and the first-round game at the region tournament against Lewis County to nine innings.

Fairview's Jordan Rakes posted a stellar .649 batting average, a state top-five mark, for an Eagles team that collected a school-record 19 wins.

Davanna Grubb helped lead Raceland to a region final appearance after winning nine games and recorded a 3.00 ERA in the circle.

Russell's Audrey Patel (165 strikeouts), Fleming County's Ariana Adams (.627 batting average), Greenup County's Skyler Lawrence (.451 average, nine doubles), Ashland's Jada Erwin (.418 average, 72 strikeouts) and Menifee County's Grace Rogers (.595 average, 22 runs) rounded out the team.

The All-Area team was comprised by coaches' vote. The newspaper's sports staff selected the Coach, Pitcher and Position Player of the Year.

2022 The Daily Independent All-Area Softball Team

Ariana Adams (Fleming County)

Sara Bays (Boyd County)

Alex Blanton (Boyd County)

Emily Cole (Lewis County)

Dani Crum (Lawrence County)

Randi Delong (Johnson Central)

Mayson Delong (Johnson Central)

Lauryn Eastham (Rowan County)

Jada Erwin (Ashland)

Kensley Feltner (Lawrence County)

Haven Ford (Rowan County)

Jaycie Goad (Boyd County)

Davanna Grubb (Raceland)

Taylor Hodson (Bath County)

Skyler Lawrence (Greenup County)

Audrey Manning (East Carter)

Audrey Patel (Russell)

Karsen Prichard (East Carter)

Jordan Rakes (Fairview)

Ashlee Rogers (Bath County)

Grace Rogers (Menifee County)

Kayla Sullivan (Lewis County)

Kirsten Vice (Bath County)

Diamond Wills (Bath County)

POSITION PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kayla Sullivan (Lewis County)

PITCHER OF THE YEAR

Emily Cole (Lewis County)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Chad Case (Lewis County)

UMPIRE OF THE YEAR

Chris Wyscarver

Honorable mention: Ashtyn Barrett (Bath County), Laney Bledsoe (Paintsville), Camryn Burton (West Carter), Lydia Combs (East Carter), Skylar Copley (Elliott County), Jenna DeLaney (Ashland), Shelby Gibson (Fairview), Myla Hamilton (Boyd County), Malana Hamm (Rowan County), Kyli Kouns (Boyd County), Kaylie Lawrence (Greenup County), Reagan Mackie (Raceland), Brandi McGlone (West Carter), Erin Patrick (Ashland), Trina Porter (East Carter), Gracie Preece (Lawrence County), Mallory Price (Fleming County), Lili Smith (Russell), Taylor Sword (Morgan County), Allie Triplett (Lawrence County), Stephany Tussey (East Carter), Kali Vance (Raceland), Maddie Vaughn (Johnson Central), Sarah Paige Weddington (Lewis County)

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