While individual sports awards recognize the accomplishments of coaches or athletes putting up the numbers to back them up, such accolades often reflect a thorough team effort across the board responsible for success beyond the norm.
This season’s Crescent-News Softball Awards are a prime example of that.
After Antwerp’s strongarm 22-2 record came to rest on the field of Akron’s Firestone Stadium with a D-IV state championship, area coaches’ ballots declared Lady Archers junior pitching dynamo Carlie Hanes Player of the Year while awarding mentor Krista Ordway Coach of the Year honors.
Award nominees were granted 10 points for each first-place vote received, five points for second and one mark for third on ballots asking coverage-area coaches to list their top three candidates.
Incredibly problematic for would-be hitters from games one through 24, Hanes – who also reaped first-team status in district and state voting – added to her season hardware in landslide fashion. The Antwerp righty topped this spring’s cast of contenders with 10 first-place votes in a 106-point tally, with Fairview combo Kendyl Kime (56 points) and Anna Ankney ringing in at second and third.
“It was just such a successful season for the whole team. It wasn’t just me in general, the whole team did great,” said Hanes. “They were all there for me when needed, and it was just amazing to be able to have a great and solid team all the way around behind me the whole time.
“The whole season I knew they would be there when needed, and they always showed up when they had to be there,” she added. “They knew what they had to do and they got it done.”
The coaching contingent was a bit more contested but nonetheless telling, as Ordway’s 81-point total helped the Antwerp frontlady to COY honors ahead of Fairview’s Staci Renollet and Napoleon’s Kelsey Meyer.
Edging out Renollet by a mere 10 points, Ordway’s seven first-place votes to Renollet’s five were key in the final balloting outcome.
“I’m super thankful to have just had the opportunity to work with the girls for the three years I’ve been there, and with all the other coaches voting for me, I just appreciate that so much,” said Ordway. “They do all the work and they just make it look easy for me. But it’s really just them doing all the hard work that we ask them to do.
“It’s just been awesome to watch these girls do exactly what they love to do and watch them be honored for all the hard work that they’ve done,” she exclaimed. “It’s just amazing … it’s a great feeling to have.”
An understandably stellar feeling in the wake of a landmark season …
Assisted by softball gurus John Robarge and Larry Robarge with Zach Lee fronting the JV squad, Ordway’s third season in charge smashed the program’s record books with several firsts for Antwerp, most notably regional and state titles.
“Without them a lot of this wouldn’t be happening, either, because they’ve helped so much and they have so much knowledge. That has helped our team a lot with getting the resources that they needed,” she said of the coaching staff. “It’s just a lot of little things that people don’t know about that’s really just got us to where we needed to be this year. It’s just been exciting.”
Overlooked all season in the state rankings, the undaunted Lady Archers – starting five juniors and four freshmen – blazed a trail through their state championship campaign that ended with a freakish 191-14 scoring edge over their opponents.
The rip and tear hit overdrive under Ordway’s watch in the tournament, as the young Archers launched a 33-4 scoring assault through seven confident games that resulted in the area’s first state title since Archbold brought one home in 1986.
“It’s crazy that we won state, but there was not one point in the season that I doubted that we could do this,” said Hanes. “I always thought that we were capable of getting to state at least. I figured that we had a good chance of winning it all, but it’s crazy and it’s still all so unreal to me because it’s such a big accomplishment for everyone.”
Hanes’ third varsity outing was one rife with notoriety, leading the Lady Archers in the circle as a near-unhittable figure by statistical standards.
Blending deceptive velocity with zigzag mirage, the junior juggernaut faced 566 total batters and hung Ks on 309 of them with a 0.42 ERA and 0.6 WHIP. Her dominant campaign also allowed just 11 extra-base hits – nine doubles and two triples – out of 58 surrendered while issuing a mere 34 walks in 17 Antwerp shutouts.
Hanes dialed up the heat in the face of tournament pressure, fanning 87 batters and tossing five shutouts en route to Antwerp’s D-IV state destiny. Her final two goose eggs came via a 1-0 win over Peebles in the state semi and a 5-0 blanking of Mechanicsburg to clinch it all.
Adding to the state gold was a 15-strikeout performance over Mechanicsburg that tied a state record for punchouts in a “Final Four” outing.
“It feels amazing, honestly, because when I was younger people didn’t think I could succeed as much for pitching,” said Hanes, who also led the Archers with a .568 batting average, eight home runs and 31 RBIs. “They thought I was always too small or not strong enough or something, and it’s great knowing now that people have respect for me and how hard I’ve worked. It’s all starting to pay off.
“They know that, and I’m glad they do because we’ve all worked hard as a team and so have I.”
In the wake of equally impressive freshman and sophomore seasons, Hanes is now sitting on a lights-out 775 strikeouts in a career that has already rewritten the program history book and attracted a fair share of attention at the next level.
“She is the hardest worker I’ve ever met,” said Ordway of her soon-to-be senior shutout sensation. “She sets goals for herself and just meeting those goals – that’s her. She wants to be good and she wants to do well every time she goes out and pitches. She always just does her job. She knows exactly what she needs to do out there and she always does it.”
And much like Ordway spoke of her deserving pitcher, Hanes also noted her own thoughts on the Antwerp mentor being recognized around the area.
She knows what she is talking about, and she is able to help us all when we need it whether it’s batting or defensively and she’s not really negative about it,” said Hanes. “She will tell us what can do to make ourselves better or to help the team more, and that’s one thing that I really like about her.
“She’s always giving us endless knowledge about the game, and I just think it’s really cool that she won that because she has known the game since she was little and what she needs to do,” she continued. “So I think it really says a lot about her.”
Between the coaching, the pitching, the players and the staff, the award-winning formula is one that earned the respect of area coaches and commanded it throughout the state. And with the entire lineup returning for another round next spring, the chances are high that Antwerp could be in prime position to defend their state title.
But for now, the Archers are all about enjoying the rewards of a storybook season as a team before firing up the machine again.