The 2023 Ohio Varsity Softball Player of the Year finalists have been selected with the winner being announced at the Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic on June 22 at Mentor High School.
Listed below are each of the five finalists in alphabetical order.
EMILI BLACKIE, MADISON
As a senior, Blackie batted .507 (35-for-69) with 11 doubles, one triple, and 11 home runs with 38 runs batted in while catching, pitching, and playing shortstop for the Blue Streaks.
In the circle, Blackie was 2-3 with a 7.59 earned run average and an opponent’s batting average of .348. She struck out 22 in 27 2/3 innings. She also recorded a .960 fielding percentage with 108 putouts and 12 assists to just five errors.
“Emili dominated the diamond this spring,” said Madison coach David Negin. “Her 11 home runs, 1.776 OPS, and 1.174 slugging percentage have to be some of the top numbers in the area. She was on base more than 60 percent of the time (.602) and helped lead our team. A catcher by trade, teams did not try to steal on her. She also played some shortstop for us as well as served as our No. 2 pitcher, winning two games in part-time duty. Emili is going to be playing at Hillsdale in the fall.”
DELANEY KEITH, RIVERSIDE
As a senior, Keith batted .565 (48-for-85) with 14 doubles, 10 triples, five home runs, and a school-record 52 RBI.
The Ashland recruit was as valuable to the Beavers behind the plate as she was with the bat in her hands.
She recorded a .994 fielding percentage with 162 putouts and 15 assists to just one error.
“Delaney is a tremendous athlete and an even better teammate,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “She had a school-record 52 RBI this year and was fantastic behind the plate.”
GRACE LEGAN, CHARDON
The lone underclassman on the list, Legan had a tremendous junior season for the Hilltoppers.
She batted .500 (49-for-98) with seven doubles, three triples, one home run, and 23 RBI, with 38 runs scored.
Legan posted a .950 fielding percentage with 52 putouts and 62 assists with just six errors from her second base position.
“Grace Legan is the most complete softball player in the area,” said Chardon coach Stewart Landies. “Her batting average and on-base percentage led Chardon this season, and she almost always scored when she got on base. Grace has a way of making the spectacular plays look routine. Her range and tenacity in the field were keys to the success of a Chardon team that won 21 games. Grace was voted team captain as a junior and was a varsity starter from day one as a freshman. She leads by example and vocally. Her experience, confidence, and personality make her easy to follow.”
SHEA MALONE, WEST GEAUGA
As a senior, Malone batted .569 (29-for-51) with 13 doubles, two triples, and 17 RBI.
From her shortstop position, the Bucknell signee recorded a .967 fielding percentage with 35 putouts, 23 assists, and just two errors.
“Shea is the most complete player I’ve ever seen,” said West Geauga coach Mark Percassi. “Her stats are tremendous and had we had another week’s worth of games—we only played 16–no telling how many more hits, runs, RBI she’d have. She’s been literally roping the ball almost all season. hat you don’t see in the stats here is Shea’s 25 stolen bases in as many attempts. Her baserunning savvy, her ability to get to the next 60 feet with uncanny ability, and her tremendous defensive skills. She’s been a part of three double plays, made many 5–6-hole plays, diving stops and great catches chasing ‘Texas Leaguers.’ Shea has also been intentionally walked a handful of times. Other teams know her and respect her greatly. I’ve literally had people pull me aside at games and ask me about Shea. Next year Shea will be playing Division I ball at Bucknell, and they are getting a great one.”
LOLA THOMAS, HARVEY
Over the course of her career, Lola Thomas helped to reshape the Harvey program and helped lead the Red Raiders to back-to-back conference titles.
The senior catcher batted .545 (30-for-55) with nine doubles, three triples, five home runs, 25 RBI, and 44 runs scored. She also stole 53 bases and recorded a 1.091 slugging percentage.
In the field, she recorded a .991 fielding percentage with 228 putouts and eight assists to just two errors.
“Lola is a strong presence behind the plate,” said Harvey coach Betsy Hada. “Every day, she makes a tough position look effortless thanks to her powerful, accurate arm. Additionally, she is instinctive when it comes to picking runners off any base at a moment’s notice. The key to being a sound fundamental catcher is someone who frames the ball well and can manage the different personalities of a pitching staff. She is the backbone of our team and the epitome of a teammate. She is like having a third coach on the field. Lola does all this exceptionally while also helping to push all her teammates to perform to the best of their abilities. If you are talking about a catcher who is the whole package—offense and defense—Lola is that catcher.”
Note: This poll is for fun. There is no need to create a bot to stuff the ballot box.
2022 OHIO VARSITY PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Madi Dutton, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin