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Something to be proud of

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Unfortunately, I think it's the negatives that people tend to remember and those are the things that sometimes cost you the game." Ever since Nevada Lady Tigers head softball coach said those words to me after Nevada's regular-season loss to the Pleasant Hill Chicks, the statement has really stuck with me.

Yes, it is human nature to latch onto the negatives in just about any situation, but the way I see it, there are a lot of positives to this year's softball season, as well. Everyone would have liked to see the season not come to an end when it did, but if you ask me, a 17-9 record with a third consecutive district championship is a pretty good year.

After the Sectional game against Grain Valley, the dejection was pretty easy to see on nearly everyone's face and I understand why, but there's absolutely nothing to be upset about when it comes to the 2012 season. The season may have marked the end of the high school playing careers of the team's four seniors, but those were careers that included some pretty impressive statistics.

For example, the Nevada High School softball program had never won a district championship before the 2010 season. It now has three. And not only that, but this group was around to experience winning the state championship for the first time just 10 years into the program's existence in 2010.

Ashley Shumaker was the only player in this year's senior group who didn't play for the varsity squad that year, but in the two years she did spend playing for the Lady Tigers varsity team, she posted some pretty good numbers. She finished her career with a .266 average with 45 hits, 35 RBIs, three home runs and 29 runs scored in 177 plate appearances.

Victoria Culbertson has four years of varsity experience under her belt and finished her high school playing days with 26 runs scored, 32 hits and hit her first career home run this season.

When it comes to pitcher Christian Novak, I almost don't even know where to start. She holds career and single-season records in a combined total of 16 categories and will go down as the most dominant hurler the program has seen in its relatively short lifespan.

Novak's career records include 96 appearances in a game, 67 wins, 565 and a third innings pitched, 8,461 pitches thrown, a 0.88 ERA, 804 strikeouts, 10 no-hitters and 34 shutouts. Her single-season records include this year's 234 strikeouts and 0.75 ERA, along with the 27 games she appeared in and 21 games she won and 2,534 pitches she threw last year, as well as her five no-hitters and 13 shutouts in 2010.

Novak finished her career with an overall record of 67-24with 209 runs allowed -- 71 earned -- 21 hit batters and 15 homers allowed in the pitching circle and she hit .440 with 44 hits, 22 RBIs and one homer in 100 at-bats.

Infielder Mackenzie Pritchett holds her share of team records as well. She has more plate appearances (380), at-bats (309), runs scored (103), hits (121), singles (109) and walks (44) than anyone in program history.

Pritchett finished her high school playing days with a .392 career batting average with 121 hits, 53 RBIs and 44 walks.

On top of those performances, the Lady Tigers finished the year hitting .321 as a team with 223 hits, , 133 runs scored and 52 walks in 695 combined at-bats, along with 18 stolen bases in 19 attempts. The Lady Tigers outscored the opposition 133-67 and opposing hitters held just a .167 batting average.

On defense, the Lady Tigers finished with a .913 fielding percentage with 56 errors and 479 putouts on the season.

It's definitely safe to say that everyone would have liked to see this group make another deep playoff run before the seniors' high school careers came to an end, but if you ask me, that's still plenty to be happy about. So even though the negatives are often easier to see and focus on, I certainly won't be doing that.

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Eric Wade
Beyond the Bench
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