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Prep softball: Hurricane standout Rogers named Kanawha Valley Player of the Year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Courtney Rogers did not wish to be interviewed after Hurricane's 6-3 win over Cabell Midland on April 25, 2012 in Ona.

Then a freshman, Rogers had homered in the Redskins' win in the Mountain State Athletic Conference semifinals, a game that put them in position to claim their first conference title, which they did three days later by beating St. Albans.

In the 13 months that has since passed, Rogers has not only warmed to the idea of reading her words in print she's also matured into the leader of a bona-fide state champion contender.

Rogers has a .500 batting average, a Kanawha Valley-leading 11 home runs and an area-best 57 RBI. She leads the Redskins into the Class AAA State Tournament today in Vienna, where they face Wheeling Park at 9:30 a.m.

When Rogers does, she'll do so as the Kanawha Valley Player of the Year.

"It's been crazy, because we've always had losing seasons until last year," she said of the team's journey from also-ran to tournament favorite.

After finishing the regular season ranked third in the West Virginia Sports Writers Poll, Hurricane is the top-ranked team in a four-team Class AAA field that also includes No. 6 Wheeling Park, No. 10 Ripley and unranked Jefferson.

"Last year, we came out and won MSACs. This year we lost in the MSACs but still knew that we could make it to states," Rogers said. "It didn't matter. We knew we had to keep going to get to where we want to go."

Rogers, who is listed as a utility player on the All-Kanawha Valley team announced today, is 19-3 with 90 strikeouts and a 2.37 ERA. She is one of four Hurricane players on the first team, along with senior catcher Linzie Reynolds, sophomore infielder Madison Casto and junior outfielder Addie Fullen.

The talent-rich Redskins placed four more players on the second team: freshman infielder Maddie Hebb, sophomore infielder Cassi Sargent, senior outfielder Nicole Pierson and sophomore pitcher Emily Davis.

Rogers said the team's youth has begun to mature, making its talent more dangerous to opponents.

"We always know that we've got to stay focused. Sometimes we don't do that, and it leads to errors," she said. "When it happens, we're able to bring ourselves back together and keep in mind that we win as a team, and we lose as a team."

The 2012 Kanawha Valley Player of the Year, South Charleston senior pitcher Alli Burdette, makes a return to the All-Kanawha Valley team after a season in which she finished 19-8 with 326 strikeouts and a 0.91 ERA. According to www.maxpreps.com, Burdette ranks sixth in the nation in strikeouts among reporting schools.

The All-Kanawha Valley pitching staff is the same as it was a year ago. Burdette is joined at the position by St. Albans senior Ali Haynes and Herbert Hoover sophomore Allison Rager.

Haynes finishes her career as the only four-time member of the All-KV team among the Class of 2013. The West Virginia State recruit went 27-5 with 166 strikeouts and a 1.25 ERA. As St. Albans' leadoff hitter, she batted .442 with five homers, a Kanawha Valley-leading 18 doubles and 44 RBI.

Her 27 wins were a state high in 2013. She ends her career as Kanawha County's all-time pitching wins leader among Class AAA teams, with 76 victories.

Rager was 17-4 with 162 strikeouts and a 0.98 ERA, leading Hoover to the No. 1 spot in the Class AA poll through much of the regular season. Hoover teammate Mikayla Craze, a junior outfielder, made the team after hitting .495.

Reynolds, who hit .472 with six homers and 44 RBI, was not the only catcher to make the list. St. Albans senior Mariah Caudill returned to the team after hitting .442 with a Kanawha Valley-best seven triples, four homers and 55 RBI.

The remainder of the infield includes Sissonville freshman Alexee Haynes - the Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year - as well as George Washington senior Rachel Ward (.469) and St. Albans junior Madi Marshall (.458).

Joining Craze and Fullen in the outfield is Buffalo junior Katie Higginbotham, who is hitting .480 with an area-best 27 stolen bases as the Bison's leadoff hitter. Her teammate Chelsey Parkins was named as a utility player. A junior and former Rookie of the Year, Parkins is 14-1 with 157 strikeouts and leads the area with both a .553 batting average and 0.88 ERA.

Buffalo (31-4) enters today's Class A State Tournament in search of its third consecutive state title. The Bison face Wheeling Central at 9:45 a.m.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.


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