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Rodgers is the best of the best

June 09, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

In a softball season in which incredible numbers were posted by stars across the Tri-State area, Martinsburg's Lexi Rodgers still managed to stand out.

No stranger to eye-popping stats - her sensational 2006 season earned her All-Area First Team honors and put her right in the thick of that year's Player of the Year race - Rodgers picked up right where she left off.

The Bulldogs' do-it-all star is the 2007 Herald-Mail Softball Player of the Year.

"She's a coach's dream, no doubt about it, to have a kid of that caliber who can pitch, hit and play anywhere for you," Martinsburg coach Dean Ballenger said.

"A lot of it is practice. She practices like she plays the game. She takes good cuts in batting practice, and when she's on deck, she pays attention to what the pitcher is throwing. She works all year round: Pitching, hitting, everything. It showed."

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In the circle, Rodgers went 19-8 with a 0.84 ERA. In 175 2/3 innings, she allowed 109 hits and 19 walks while striking out 248, using a fastball, change, rise and drop-curve.

"I want to get the first-pitch strike and get ahead of the batter early so I can throw some junk later and get them swinging at my pitches," Rodgers said.

"Pitching-wise, when she's got runners on base, that's when her talent shows," Ballenger said. "She buckles down and throws her pitches at the right time. She's so much of a competitor, she's unbelievable."

At the plate, Rodgers hit .602 with 13 doubles, 11 triples and four homers. She drove in 39 runs, scored 33, walked 17 times and stole 12 bases.

"I try to just get up there, hit the ball hard and look for the good strike." Rodgers said. "You want to hit the best pitch. Sometimes, the best pitch is the first pitch."

Which plays into what Rodgers said is her biggest improvement from a couple years ago - her aggressiveness.

"From freshman year to this year, I've learned to be a lot more aggressive and confident," she said. "Whether pitching or hitting, I'm going out there, trusting my skills and not overthinking what I'm doing out there."

Rodgers will play for West Virginia Wesleyan in the West Virginia Conference beginning next spring.

For leading Williamsport to Washington County's first state title since 1987, Wildcats coach Tom Dzur is the 2007 Herald-Mail Softball Coach of the Year.

Williamsport finished 18-5 and rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the seventh inning to defeat Colonel Richardson 7-6 in the Maryland Class 1A final.

"The fact that they did it, I was thinking today, some of those kids, when the season started, you didn't expect certain things from certain kids, and some of them really exceeded expectations," Dzur said. "Some kids really impressed me.

"Those kids, they had to stand out there, and when they made errors, they had to stand out there and they were under all the pressure. They're like my kids, and I'm very proud of them."

The rest of the All-Area First Team:

Sarah Signore, Greencastle-Antrim, Sr., P - The St. Bonaventure-bound Signore led the Blue Devils to the Mid-Penn Conference Tournament championship. The two-time Player of the Year (2005 and 2006) went 13-5 with a 0.72 ERA, allowing 53 hits and just six walks while striking out 193 in 116 innings, giving her 716 strikeouts in her prep career. She also hit .446 at the top of the Blue Devils' lineup.

Taryn Ashway, Waynesboro, So., P - She did it all for the Indians to earn her second straight First Team selection. In the circle Ashway went 12-8 with a 1.63 ERA, allowing 101 hits and 28 walks while striking out 230 in 146 innings. At the plate she hit .583 with five doubles, two triples, four homers and 21 RBI.

Jess Shirley, Hedgesville, So., P - Her pitching prowess led the Eagles to the Apple Valley League title. Shirley went 21-3 with a 0.92 ERA, allowing 107 hits and 24 walks while striking out 154 in 159 innings.

Laken Beers, James Buchanan, So., P - Yet another do-it-all threat, Beers went 13-5 with a 2.74 ERA and 167 strikeouts in the circle, and hit .560 with seven doubles, five homers and 36 RBI, scoring 24 runs for the Rockets.

Rochelle Christman, Greencastle-Antrim, So., C - Christman earned her second straight First Team selection by hitting .479 with three doubles and eight homers, driving in 35 runs and scoring 32.

Allee Rife, Chambersburg, Sr., 1B/P - Rife, a Virginia recruit, went 11-2 with a 0.84 ERA, allowing 42 hits and 11 walks while striking out 115 in 83 2/3 innings. She also hit .396 with four homers, driving in 20 runs, scoring 19 and walking 13 times. Her second straight First Team selection.

Kaila Adams, Musselman, So., 2B - Adams was a major factor in the Applemen's run to the regional final, hitting .437 with 14 doubles and three homers. She drove in 29 runs and scored 29 more.

Lauren Dobish, Mercersburg Academy, So., 3B - Combining speed and power, Dobish hit .423 with six doubles and four triples, and scored 21 runs with the help of 16 steals.

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