STEVENS POINT — Every time Aubrey Drohner walks between the chalk lines, it’s with the intention of helping her team get better.
By doing her part, the Stevens Point Area Senior High sophomore helps her squad remain the team to beat in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and a perennial state contender.
And while she’s doing that, she racks up impressive individual statistics. Drohner went 17-4 this season in the circle (11-1 in the WVC), striking out 125 batters in 140-plus innings. She hit .476 in the conference (.413 overall) and helped lead the Panthers to their 18th straight WVC crown.
For her efforts on the diamond, Drohner has been named the Gannett Central Wisconsin Media player of the year.
“It’s always about the team for me,” Drohner said. “The individual awards are nice, but I think they’re more of a reflection of my team because one player can’t win a softball game.”
In addition to her WVC awards, Drohner was one of four sophomores to be named to the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association’s first-team all-state squad. Of the four sophomores, only two were named to the team as a pitcher — Drohner and Kaukauna’s Haley Hestekin.
Drohner had the best pitching stats in the conference, but she gives most of the credit to the girls behind her in the field. The Panthers committed just two errors in 29 games this past season.
“It’s nice to have a great defense behind me,” Drohner said. “I don’t feel like I have to throw real hard or strike people out all the time with them behind me. I know they are going to be there to make plays.”
Despite her elite play this past season, Drohner said she’s still looking to improve her game.
“I am constantly working on pitching, because you can never stop getting better in my opinion,” Drohner said. “I have two really solid pitches in my fastball and change-up, but I’m working on a riser and sinker.
“You need to work on hitting too, but not as much as pitching, at least for me.”
Starting in 1998, the Panthers have won outright or shared the WVC title every year, a source of pride for the program. SPASH went 84-0 from 2006 to 2011.
This past season, the conference was as competitive as ever, with the Panthers fighting to an 11-1 record. At the midway point, four teams were in the hunt, but as the schedule wound down, SPASH pulled away from the rest of the conference.
“There were a lot of good teams in the conference this year and that made for some great games,” Drohner said. “I think that helped us out in the end.”
SPASH, which has won the most state titles in WIAA history with eight, reached the sectional championship, falling to Chippewa Falls 4-3 in the rubber match between the two teams.
The Panthers lost only two seniors to graduation and will be an upperclassmen-dominated team in 2016.
“I’m really excited for next year,” Drohner said. “We’re going to work hard, gel as a team and hopefully be in a position to get back to state next year.”
Mark Massoglia: 715-423-7200, ext. 6736 or email@example.com; on Twitter @markmazzy.
All-Area First Team
Outfielders: Makayla Pagel, D.C. Everest, sr; Bailey Schultz, Mosinee, jr; Sammi Kay Shafranski, Pacelli, sr.
Infielders: Brooke Phillips, Iola-Scandinavia, sr; Marisa Johnson, Spencer, sr; Beth Borski, Wis. Rapids, sr; Hanna Raflik, Pacelli, sr.
Catchers: Emily Draeger, Marshfield, fr.
Pitchers: Aubrey Drohner, SPASH, soph; Rochelle Koshalek, Mosinee; Kyncaide Diedrich, Athens, sr.
Outfielders: Ally Miklesh, SPASH, fr; Madison Bogie, Wis. Rapids, jr.; Autumn Michlig, Mosinee, sr.
Infielders: Alyssa Hickey, Adams-Friendship, sr; Shaylee Kluck, SPASH, jr; Kylie Johnson, Iola-Scandinavia, sr; Emily Kind, Marathon, sr.
Catchers: Lauren Brinkman, D.C. Everest, jr.
Pitchers: Emma Roenneburg, Adams-Frienship, sr; Makayla Heckendorf, Merrill, sr; Bria Jahnke, Marathon, sr.
Jane Oligney, Iola-Scandinavia, sr; Olivia Zipperer, Wausau East, sr; Shelly Kneifl, Abbotsford, sr; Mariah Zettler, Edgar, sr; Megan Buntrock, Assumption, sr; Lauren Rech, Newman, soph; Brittney Bredemann, Stratford, soph; Emily Czech, Athens, sr; Kaitlin Walsh, Medford, jr; Hattie Berry, Almond-Bancroft, sr; Lexi Schraeder, Port Edwards, sr; Abby Seipel, Nekoosa, sr; Megan Wiczek, Almond-Bancroft, sr; Jordyn Schraeder, Port Edwards, sr; Maggie Plaza, D.C. Everest, soph; Devyn Schoonover, Loyal/Granton, jr; Allie Pfeiffer, Neillsville, sr; Brooke Kettleborough, Spencer, sr; Chelsey LaMonica, Merrill, soph; Maddix Bonnell, Merrill, fr.