CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For high school sports fans who still believe coaches are the most credible judges of athletic talent and how it should be recognized through awards, the All-Mountain State Athletic Conference softball team should be taken as Exhibit A to the contrary.
The team was announced Tuesday in following with the MSAC tradition of withholding its all-conference teams until the last league member is eliminated from postseason play. Hurricane won the Class AAA state championship last Thursday, leaving the All-MSAC team to be released after the conclusion of the State Tournament.
Once it found its way into sports departments across the southern half of the state, questions immediately began being asked amongst writers.
Once the list made it onto the Internet, those questions went viral. Well, at least in MSAC country.
The league's Player of the Year - Cabell Midland third baseman Morgan Zerkle - was easy to understand. Zerkle plays third base better than anyone this writer has seen in years and her effectiveness as the Knights' leadoff hitter was undeniable.
In fact, there is not much to question on the All-MSAC First Team. The league was very top heavy this year, with Hurricane, Midland and St. Albans pretty much dominating while South Charleston and Ripley were ranked on the fringe of the statewide sportswriters Class AAA poll all year.
Fittingly, the 16-player roster recognizes such All-Kanawha Valley honorees as Hurricane's Courtney Rogers, Linzie Reynolds and Addie Fullen. St. Albans' Ali Haynes is there as expected, and her fellow All-KV pitcher Alli Burdette from SC is too. Midland's Morgan Kelley - like Zerkle a Marshall signee - is there, as is Knights outfielder Jenny Brumfield and George Washington infielder Rachel Ward, who was also an All-KV selection.
After that, though, the record needle is ripped off the turntable leaving silence. That quiet is quickly filled by a befuddled chorus of "What?" from those who follow the sport with a wider angle than one that just allows us to see our team and whoever our team is playing that day.
Those voices finally come to a stuttering, stumbling halt by the time the Special Mention list is read. There, fans found a curious name: Hurricane's Alexander Dunham.
Dunham is a junior outfielder at Hurricane. In baseball.
Hurricane senior softball center fielder Nicole Pierson, will play college softball at Shenandoah University and hit .372 for the Redskins, but is not on the MSAC team.
MSAC Commissioner Fred Aldridge took full responsibility for the snafu Wednesday. The MSAC office had the baseball player's named listed as "Alexandra."
"That has to be the problem," Aldridge said. "The girl you're referring to (Pierson) should be in that spot instead of him."
This relegates the issue to being one of a clerical nature.