Prep softball: Lewis returns, hopes to make impact on Indians pitching staff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a lot of fresh faces around the Sissonville softball program with 11 freshmen on the team, but there's an old, familiar face that is generating a lot of buzz.
Andrea Lewis, one of the most successful players in the history of the state after winning three straight championships for Sissonville from 1999-2001, has returned to the program this season as an assistant coach for the Indians.
Lewis was a three-time All-State selection and Gatorade Player of the Year in 2001. She amassed an 85-8 record with the Indians, including a perfect 9-0 in state tournament games with an earned run average of less than 1.00.
Although things didn't go Sissonville's way in an 8-0 home loss to Class AA defending champion Wayne on a cold and blustery Wednesday, Lewis will be a huge asset to an inexperienced, freshman-laden team.
"It's amazing to have Andrea here," Sissonville Coach Niki Gross said. "She will be working with the pitchers and calling the pitches. I can tell it's going to be a huge help and is going to work in our advantage all season. She is well known out here for pitching career."
Lewis couldn't be prouder and happier to be once again associated with the Indians program.
"It's more flattering and an honor to be here and be able to give back to what I was a part of for so long," Lewis said. "I was a part of a strong program that expected a lot, at all times. It's good to be back."
After Lewis starred at Sissonville, she went on to play collegiately at Gardner-Webb for two seasons before transferring to the University of Charleston.
Lewis graduated from UC in 2007 and has been away from the game of softball ever since.
"It's almost like a part of me because I was in it for so long," Lewis said. "I tried not coaching just to see what it would be like, and I can't. Coming back and working with Niki, I feel more complete. Like this is where I'm supposed to be. It's a way of life."
Lewis will immediately be called upon to boost the pitching staff of the Indians. Senior Bekah Baldwin and freshman Alexee Haynes are the two main hurlers for Sissonville.
Baldwin is the not just the top pitcher for the Indians, but also their top hitter as well. Last season, she hit .506 with 10 home runs, 15 doubles and 36 RBI. Baldwin also struck out 94 batters in 93 innings.
Big things are expected from her again this season, especially considering Lewis has already been working with her over the years.
"It's amazing and I am really glad she is here," Baldwin said. "She has been my pitching coach since I was eight. I really love her. She is always positive but has the drive. I'm very competitive. We get along really well."
"She was my very first lesson," Lewis said. "I have watched her grow and develop and be who I knew she could be. I want to see her goals and dreams fulfilled. I want to be there for her like my sister (Annie) was for me."
Lewis has high hopes for her protege.
"We have set goals on what she wants and she is fully capable of reaching them," Lewis said. "If she pushes hard enough, she will get what she wants. As a senior, I want to see her leave happy."