CSD’s Bleyer named first-team All-Mid-Shore

Dorchester Star - - Sports - By CHRIS KNAUSS ck­nauss@star­dem.com

ST. MICHAELS — Two-thou­sand six­teen was the year of the Saints.

Typ­i­cally a .500 team, St. Michaels High’s soft­ball team epit­o­mized the word “team” this year as a com­bi­na­tion of se­nior lead­er­ship, tal­ented un­der­class­men, and heady coach­ing re­sulted in a re­mark­able un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son for the Saints and their first Bay­side Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship.

Lead­ing the way for St. Michaels was gritty se­nior catcher Melissa Richard­son who, com­bined with pitch­ers An­gel­ica Sichette, Sa­van­nah Ste­wart, and McKenna Brown­ing, kept op­pos­ing teams’ bats in check. The Saints’ of­fense took ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity on the bases and came of age with a 19-1 past­ing of county ri­val Eas­ton on April 18.

For their ef­forts, Brown­ing and Richard­son were among the top vote-get­ters of Mid-Shore play­ers as se­lected by coaches at the end of the sea­son.

As good as Richard­son was this sea­son, an­other se­nior catcher re­ceived the most votes of any player, North Caroline’s Clara Thorn­ton, whose pres­ence be­hind and at the plate drew earned her re­spect around the di­a­mond, as well as the All-Mid-Shore Player of the Year.

Dave Fisher, in his first year as the head coach for the Saints, was an ob­vi­ous choice as this year’s Mid-Shore Coach of the Year.

Here’s a look at this year’s Al­lMid-Shore teams:

First Team

Pitcher McKenna Brown­ing St. Michaels

Brown­ing went 14-0 on the mound and fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son with an 0.87 earned-run av­er­age. She struck out 122 bat­ters.

“McKenna is one of those rare gems that only comes along ev­ery so of­ten,” Fisher said. “Al­ready ar­guably one of the best pitch­ers to ever at­tend St. Michaels High and only a sopho­more, I’m ex­cited to see what the fu­ture holds for her. Her tal­ent, drive, and ded­i­cated work ethic can only help her get bet­ter. She is the quiet con­fi­dent player that you can al­ways count on to do her job, but she is al­ways work­ing to get bet­ter.”

Paige Bleyer Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester Bleyer struck out 160 bat­ters this sea­son and fin­ished with a 1.44 ERA. At the plate, she knocked in 14 runs, had a bat­ting av­er­age of .396, and an on-base-per­cent­age of .475.

“Paige Bleyer has been our start­ing pitcher since her fresh­men year and has led us to two sec­tion fi­nals and one re­gion fi­nal,” Vik­ings head coach Ka­reem Otey said. “With­out her, we would have never been able to go as far as we did and not hav­ing her next year will be a tremen­dous loss.”

Catcher Clara Thorn­ton North Caroline

Thorn­ton’s throw­backs to her pitcher were glove-pop­ping and served no­tice that run­ners at first should stay put. She led the Bull­dogs with a .517 bat­ting av­er­age. She stroked 30 hits, in­clud­ing 13 dou­bles, a triple, and a home run, and knocked in 24 runs.

Thorn­ton and Macken­zie Short were the only two se­niors play­ing for the Bull­dogs this sea­son.

“Clara and Mac have been brick walls for us for four years,” Bull­dogs head coach Re­nee Bar­ringer said. “Their ath­letic abil­ity is top notch and they will both be missed.”

Melissa Richard­son St. Michaels

Richard­son caught 20 games and fin­ished the sea­son with a .444 bat­ting av­er­age and an on-base per­cent­age of .538. She stole five bases and scored 30 runs. She blasted a pair of homers, tripled four times, and dou­bled twice among 24 hits. Be­hind the plate, she threw out 14 of 16 baserun­ners try­ing to steal.

“Melissa is the kind of ath­lete coaches look for in a player and team leader,” Fisher said. “As a cap­tain this year she not only led but was part of the foun­da­tion we were able to build our suc­cesses on. Even though she also led in many of the team stats, she con­stantly worked to im­prove and help those around her im­prove.”

Alyssa Ken­dall Kent County

Ken­dall caught all but one game for the Tro­jans with a field­ing per­cent­age of .988. Like Thorn­ton and Richard­son, she also pro­duced plenty of of­fense, fin­ish­ing the sea­son with a .468 bat­ting av­er­age. Among her hits were three dou­bles, two triples, and a home run.

“Babe Ruth said ‘It’s hard to beat a per­son who never gives up.’ And that is the truth about Alyssa,” Tro­jans head coach Jory Mitzel said. “She will give 110 per­cent ev­ery minute of the game and I couldn’t think of any­one bet­ter to earn first team to rep­re­sent Kent County.”

In­field Jazmine Brooks Colonel Richard­son

Brooks’ ath­leti­cism shined for the Colonels at short­stop. Con­sis­tent with the glove, she was also con­sis­tent at the plate with a .410 bat­ting av­er­age. She scored 32 runs, knocked in 15 runs, walked 17 times, stole 12 bases, and belted nine ex­tra-base hits, in­clud­ing two home runs.

“Jaz has been a four-year starter for us and has had a tremen­dous ca­reer,” Colonels head coach Brett Ire­land said. “She does what we ask of her and leads the team and we will cer­tainly miss her next year. We wish her the best.”

Brooks fin­ished her prep ca­reer with an MVP per­for­mance at the Bay­side Con­fer­ence Se­nior All-Star game.

Macken­zie Short North Caroline

Short, a four-year var­sity starter and three-year cap­tain, played first base for the Bull­dogs. She col­lected 27 hits this sea­son, in­clud­ing five dou­bles, a triple, and a home run, for a bat­ting av­er­age of .491. She also knocked in 24 runs.

She is headed to Rowan (N.J.) Uni­ver­sity to play for the Profs. Rowan ended its sea­son 42-11, which was a school record for wins. The Profs tied for third at the NCAA Divi­sion III Cham­pi­onship Tour­na­ment.

“She was like a brick wall over at first base, pick­ing balls and mak­ing plays that seemed al­most im­pos­si­ble,” Bar­ringer said. “And then with her bat­ting, she was one of the top hit­ters on the team. And you could al­most al­ways count on her to pull through with a hit.”

Alyssa Jack­son Queen Anne’s County

Jack­son fin­ished with a .519 bat­ting av­er­age and a slug­ging per­cent­age of .865. She rapped 30 hits and knocked in 20 runs. A short­stop and se­cond base­man, she had a field­ing per­cent­age of .985.

“Alyssa was in­dis­putably our most con­sis­tent all around player,” Lions head coach Kim Re­menter-Betts said. “She is heads up, ver­sa­tile, and aware of sit­u­a­tions at all times. Game af­ter game, we looked to her for con­sis­tent de­fense, qual­ity at-bats, and power, and she of­ten de­liv­ered lead­ing the team in ev­ery of­fen­sive cat­e­gory.”

A se­nior, Jack­son belted two home runs and five RBIs to lead Queen Anne’s to a 13-1 vic­tory over Wi­comico in the open­ing round of the play­offs. Mor­gan Wil­loughby Colonel Richard­son Wil­loughby, a ju­nior, played first base and pitched for the Colonels. On the mound, she went 7-2 with an ERA of 2.59. At the plate, she bat­ted .406 with 23 RBIs. She scored 16 runs.

“Mor­gan had a great year for us,” Ire­land said. “She worked hard over this off­sea­son and it showed. Her abil­ity to throw the off­speed pitches for strikes was huge. With the bat she came up in big sit­u­a­tions all year and de­liv­ered. We look for­ward to hav­ing her back next year.”

An­gel­ica Sichette St. Michaels

Sichette, a ju­nior, brought ver­sa­til­ity to the Saints with the abil­ity to throw the ball well on the mound and to slug the ball at the plate. As a pitcher her ERA was 1.93. When she wasn’t pitch­ing, she played first base. She hit .441 with eight dou­bles, three triples, and 20 RBIs.

“An­gel­ica helped so­lid­ify our in­field at first base and our of­fense,” Fisher said. “She also added her pitch­ing skills to our ro­ta­tion dur­ing the sea­son go­ing 4-1. She ac­cepted her role quickly as a team cap­tain chal­leng­ing her team­mates to never set­tle for OK.”

Out­field Jayna Turner Colonel Richard­son

A con­sis­tent, solid per­former, Turner hit .383 this sea­son with 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored.

“Jayna has been a great as­set to our team,” Ire­land said. “She has started in right field since her fresh­man year and has come up with nu­mer­ous big plays out there all through­out her four years. She also al­ways came up with a big hit when we needed it and she will be missed.”

Cameron Fos­ter Eas­ton

Fos­ter showed ex­cel­lent range in cen­ter field. At bat, she stroked seven dou­bles among 24 hits, fin­ish­ing with a .367 bat­ting av­er­age. She walked 13 times and scored 21 runs.

“She was a very pos­i­tive team player,” Eas­ton coach Jen Pow­ell said. “She led the team with her ac­tions. She was a de­fen­sive as­set in cen­ter field and saved us many times with out­stand­ing plays. She was also a threat at the plate as our lead­off bat­ter. Over­all an amaz­ing player on and off the field.”

Racheal Nel­son Kent County

Nel­son roamed the out­field and played first base, fin­ish­ing the sea­son with a 1.0 per­fect field­ing per­cent­age. She hit .444 with two dou­bles, four triples, and two home runs for an .800 slug­ging per­cent­age.

“Racheal is the ideal soft­ball player any coach would love to have,” Mitzel said. “She is the most hard­work­ing and ded­i­cated ath­lete I have had the op­por­tu­nity to coach. She will put 100 per­cent ef­fort in the field dur­ing not only games but prac­tices as well.” Se­cond Team Kaylie Seabrease, short­stop, Cam­bridge-SD

Karli Lewis, catcher, Cam­bridgeSD

Gabby Galante, pitcher/first base, Colonel Richard­son

Madi­son Bee, third base, Colonel Richard­son Kas­sidy Wil­lis, out­field, Eas­ton Pey­ton Elzey, pitcher/DP, Eas­ton

Car­ley Peet, short­stop/pitcher, Kent County

Ju­lia Black­burn, pitcher, Kent County

Brea Bishop, pitcher, North Caroline

Ali Ward, out­field, North Caroline

Au­tumn Hassler, catcher, North Dorch­ester

Chase Brown­ing, short­stop, St. Michaels

Hon­or­able Men­tion: Cam­bridge-SD: JaMira Ch­ester, Alyssa Swann; Colonel Richard­son: Kaylie Moore, Camr yn Plugge; Eas­ton: Anna Slaugh­en­houpt, Jada Murray, Tori Weems; Kent County: Lind­sey El­gin; Kent Is­land: Am­ber Gard­ner, Aly Hall, Ju­lia Fitzpa­trick; North Caroline: Sara Mast, Me­gan Rob­bins; North Dorch­ester: Maddi Nos­sick; Queen Anne’s: Gra­cie Ray; St. Michaels: Sa­man­tha Romberger, Sa­van­nah Ste­wart, Layla Berry; Saints Peter and Paul: Jill Koski.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester’s Paige Bleyer struck out 160 bat­ters in 2016 and fin­ished with 10 wins and a 1.44 ERA.

JAZMINE BROOKS

MACKEN­ZIE SHORT

ALYSSA KEN­DALL

PAIGE BLEYER

CLARA THORN­TON

MELISSA RICHARD­SON

MCKENNA BROWN­ING

AN­GEL­ICA SICHETTE

CAMERON FOS­TER

RACHEAL NEL­SON

MOR­GAN WIL­LOUGHBY

ALYSSA JACK­SON

JAYNA TURNER

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