There were times this softball season where Hannah Adams would walk to the plate and not know if she would see any pitches to hit.
When she did see a pitch she liked, Adams sure didn’t waste the opportunity.
The recent Northeastern graduate had a stellar senior season, despite a leg injury that hampered the end of it.
Northeastern coach Jennifer Hill called Adams “dominant,” both at the plate and from the circle. There is no doubt the left-handed hurler put up phenomenal numbers on the way to earning the 2013 Player of the Year from the Palladium-Item.
Another Tri-Eastern Conference mainstay was named this year’s Palladium-Item Coach of the Year. Union County’s Scott Gray had largely a new cast of players after last year’s semistate run, and he guided the Patriots to yet another outright championship in the TEC.
Randolph Southern coach Steve Bray was heavily considered for the top coaching honor as the Rebels battled their way to a 12-13 season with sectional and regional championships in Class A. Richmond coach Kyle Ingram had the Red Devils again contending for the North Central Conference’s championship as they won 16 games. And Centerville coach Avon Miller guided the Bulldogs to 20 wins in his second season leading the program.
Richmond’s Emily Gaddis and Bre Wilson kept the Red Devil offense rolling, while pitchers Allison Franklin of Union County, Sydney Griffin of Lincoln and Sarah Snider of Randolph Southern were critical parts of their teams’ successes.
The Knights and Patriots split in two meetings this year, with UC winning the regular-season matchup, and Northeastern taking the sectional rematch — part of a gutsy postseason performance by Adams.
“She’s a team player,” Hill said of Adams. “She was concerned with her teammates. She never wanted to let them down. She’s one of those one-in-a-million players. You get one like that, it’s fun to watch, fun to be around.”
Adams hit .567 overall, an average that swelled to .842 (16-for-19) when she faced TEC teams.
She also finished with six home runs, 37 RBIs, three triples and five doubles.
Adams excelled from the circle, too. She compiled a 12-4 record with 157 strikeouts and a 1.26 ERA.
“She always gave us a chance,” Hill said. “That is what an MVP, the Tri-Eastern Conference Player of the Year, does. They give you that chance.”
Adams helped Northeastern to both a Wayne County Tournament title and its first chance at a sectional championship. The Knights advanced to their first-ever Class 2A sectional final with wins over Lincoln and Union County, before falling in the final round to Eastern Hancock.
Adams competed with a leg injury that made it a struggle to even run the bases after a hit. Adams was hurt during an early May game at Hagerstown, but continued to play for the Knights.
“To be able to make it to the championship game like that, even though we didn’t win, we still made school history,” Adams said.
” … It (the injury) was pretty tough. I hate sitting out. Every pitch, I could feel pain shooting up my leg, so that was rough. I knew we either won, or we went home.”
Union County brought home yet another TEC title, despite a crowded field that fought the Patriots every step of the way for the championship.
Late in the season, there were still scenarios in play that would allow for a five-way tie for the title, with UC, Centerville, Hagerstown, Lincoln and Northeastern all in contention.
The Patriots won out, though, with a young team that returned two crucial pieces from the 2012 regional-champion squad.
“We knew we had some talent,” Gray said. “We had kids who stepped up and filled roles and filled spots.
” … We were nervous, there was no doubt. We didn’t know what we would do. We beefed up our schedule this year because I wanted them to see good pitching all the time.”
The Patriots finished 18-11, 6-1 in the TEC.
“I think it comes down to, we are a tradition-rich program,” Gray said. “We’ve been blessed enough with very talented kids who have bought into a style and program of doing things and being fundamentally sound. We have kids who play travel ball, and play ball all year ’round. We have an athletic department that has been very supportive.
” … I thank everybody at Union County for their continued support. We’ve had great backing from not only fans, but school administration. We’re grateful for all of that.”