Prep softball: Sissonville freshman Haynes named Rookie of the Year
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been a while since Sissonville enjoyed its reign of dominance in Class AA softball.
The Indians won six state championships from 1996-2002, claiming three-peats on two separate occasions with star players such as Rebekah Kendall, Kim Reed, and sisters Annie and Andrea Lewis.
The school has continued to produce individual stars throughout the past decade, but suddenly there appears to be a group of young players in the program with the potential to take it back to the top.
Sissonville started four freshmen in 2013 and with them, upset rival Herbert Hoover in the Region 4 semifinals to reach the regional final. The Indians lost 7-4 at defending state champion Wayne last Thursday, ending their year with a 17-13 record.
At the head of Sissonville's Class of 2016 is Alexee Haynes, a pitcher/third baseman who hit .494 with six home runs, 15 doubles, two triples and 31 RBI. She was 8-3 in the circle with 96 strikeouts and a 2.28 ERA.
Haynes headlines the inaugural Daily Mail Kanawha Valley All-Rookie Team, and has been chosen as the area's Rookie of the Year.
"Watching her come up through middle school and everything, once she got here to the high school she's everything I thought she would be and more," Sissonville Coach Nikki Gross said. "It was definitely great to have someone with that much talent come in and be able to contribute the way she did this year."
Haynes is the first player from Sissonville to win the Rookie of the Year award (formerly known as the Freshman of the Year) since Kendall won it in 2001. Andrea Lewis won it a year earlier. The award was first given in 1997.
While Sissonville All-State utility player Bekah Baldwin sometimes struggled as the team's ace in 2013 and often took hard-luck losses, Haynes' abilities gave the West Virginia State-bound senior opportunities to rest and regain her effectiveness, Gross said.
"There's a lot of talent in our conference. It's a battle day after day," Gross said. "We could rest Bekah and not lose much by throwing Nikki."
Sissonville also landed freshman Abbey Jordan on the team as an outfielder. Jordan, who hit .360 with 21 RBI, played first base when Baldwin pitched and outfield when Haynes was throwing.
The 11-member team was comprised entirely of freshmen, although sophomores who did not earn letters in 2012 were eligible as rookies.
Haynes narrowly edged Hurricane freshman first baseman Maddie Hebb for the Rookie of the Year honor. Hebb hit .462 with two homers and 14 doubles. She also played solid defense for the Redskins (30-6), who won their first Class AAA Region 4 championship Friday with a 2-0 win over St. Albans (28-5).
Hurricane was held to five hits in that game. Hebb was 2-for-3. She was joined on the All-Rookie team by Redskins freshman Amber Null, a right fielder who is hitting .348 with four homers and 12 doubles entering the State Tournament.
St. Albans and South Charleston each landed a pair of players on the team. Red Dragons second baseman Maddie Chandler helped solidify the middle of the St. Albans infield with a .984 fielding percentage, which became pivotal in maximizing the effectiveness of pitcher Ali Haynes.
St. Albans center fielder Katie Holstein entered the starting lineup in the second half of the season but finished with a .367 batting average, and did not make an error all season. Holstein will likely share pitching duties with current shortstop Madi Marshall in 2014.
South Charleston's Amanda McDonald spent most of the year at third base and hit .329 with three doubles. Like Holstein, she appears to be the heir apparent to a stalwart pitcher, as she threw 20 innings this season in the few times when 2012 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year and Elon University recruit Alli Burdette was not in the circle.
Black Eagles shortstop Madisyn Pauley also made the list as much for her glove as her bat. Pauley hit .309 with six doubles, but also had an .889 fielding percentage, helping cut down on errors that led to frequent losses for Burdette and South Charleston in 2012. The team finished 20-10.
Buffalo catcher Chase Christy (.389, 26 RBI), George Washington first baseman Taylor Casto (.375, 6 2B) and Poca pitcher/catcher Tori Ward (.439, 6 HR, 26 RBI) round out the team.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.