Rantoul Press Softball Awards

Most Valuable Player

Becca Clanton, Fisher

For the past two seasons, Clanton has taken the Rantoul Press area (and The News-Gazette area) by storm as one of the best all-around catchers in central Illinois.

The Bunnies senior, who will be taking her talents to Ball State next season, finished in the top three in the N-G area in home runs (15, second) and RBI (59, third) while absolutely raking all year (.464 average with 39 hits and 38 runs scored). Clanton, who came in second in the area’s MVP race last season, could not have been more impressive at the plate and was always a terrific defensive player. She should be in the running for N-G Player of the Year in a loaded field after taking home a unanimous selection as a first-team all-Heart of Illinois Conference member.

The chemistry and fluidness between Clanton behind the plate and Sydney Eichelberger in the pitcher’s circle was fantastic all season and was the key reason behind the Bunnies’ first-ever HOIC regular season championship in which they finished 11-0 — a ridiculously impressive feat in one of the best small-school conferences in the state.

Eichelberger’s main prowess came as a pitcher, but she also finished with a .390 average, 12 RBI and 10 stolen bases batting in the middle of Fisher’s lineup.

Lindsay Jordahl was another one of the area’s top hurlers, but she was also one of the Eagles’ best offensive performers. The senior finished with a .464 average, 23 RBI, 39 hits and 16 RBI, typically batting out of the three-spot for Travis Flesner’s club.

Bailey Hadden hit .330 with 29 hits, 28 runs scored and nine RBI as the Bunnies’ two-hole hitter for much of the year. But the center fielder, who earned first-team all-HOIC honors, truly showed her value as Fisher’s loudest leader the past two seasons. The senior lefty was almost always the most vocal player on the field for either team and was praised by opposing coaches, and Fisher head coach Ken Ingold, as one of the best center fielders in the area.

Runners-up

Sydney Eichelberger, Fisher

Lindsay Jordahl, Rantoul

Bailey Hadden, Fisher

 

Cy Young

Sydney Eichelberger, Fisher

After coming in second for the Cy Young award last season, Eichelberger takes home the prize this year for her dominating 2018 performance.

Eichelberger was one of the most-worked hurlers in the area with 155 innings pitched with a 2.30 earned run average, 20 pitching wins (No. 1 in the N-G area) and 168 strikeouts (third in the N-G area). Though she was outdueled in a regional championship game loss to Heyworth’s Adyson Slayback, who threw a no-hitter in the Hornets’ win, Eichelberger still led Fisher to a 21-8 record and a conference title.

 The junior will be back next season to make a run at winning a second consecutive Cy Young award and a second straight first-team all-HOIC unanimous selection as a pitcher.

Jordahl was also dominant once again this season, finishing among the area leaders in innings pitched (99.0), ERA (2.83), pitching wins (nine) and strikeouts (94). The senior’s impressive four-year run, which garnered steep and constant praise from Flesner for her work ethic, leadership and on-field ability, will not soon be forgotten by coaches, teammates and fans.

Lexi Sherrick, a Rantoul sophomore, has a bright future at both second base and as a pitcher. She will most likely be the top arm to lead the Eagles pitching staff the next two seasons. She finished with a 6.60 ERA across 47 2/3 innings pitched while picking up a pair of wins with 29 strikeouts.

Madi Gayheart, who will continue her volleyball career at Eureka College, was relied on heavily the past two seasons for Gary Duden’s squad, and she once again led the Trojans in innings pitched (52.0), wins (three) and strikeouts (41) and finished with a 6.05 ERA.

Runners-up

Lindsay Jordahl, Rantoul

Madi Gayheart, Armstrong-Potomac

Lexi Sherrick, Rantoul

 

Most Improved Player

Sidney Hood, Fisher

Another loaded field in 2018, the softball Most Improved Player award goes to the sophomore Hood, one of the frontrunners for Rantoul Press Female Athlete of the Year.

The future is certainly bright for the youngster, who earned a unanimous selection as a first-team all-HOIC member at shortstop. She was one of the core members of Ingold’s “strength-up-the-middle” mantra, along with Clanton, Eichelberger, second baseman Kylie Terven (with whom Hood developed a tremendous amount of chemistry) and Hadden.

She did not just shine on defense, though. Hood was one of the Bunnies’ most impactful hitters, continually coming up with clutch hits. She finished among the area leaders in batting average (.350), RBI (28) and scored 21 runs along with grabbing a pair of pitching wins with 14 strikeouts.

Rantoul shortstop Jada Mosley also made a run at the award after returning from a devastating torn ACL suffered in August 2016. One of, if not the, fastest players on the field no matter the opponent, the lefty Mosley finished with a .459 batting average while scoring 29 runs and driving in 12.

Mosley was among The News-Gazette’s area leaders in stolen bases (20) as well, using her speed to take second base nearly every time she reached base. And her defense in a regional semifinal game loss to Mahomet-Seymour was outstanding and helped keep the Eagles out in front for most of the contest.

Jerzie Grob earned the team’s Most Improved Player award after a season in which she was thrust into a full-time starter’s role as a freshman. Grob held down third base and served as a part-time catcher.

Fisher’s Taylor May filled in admirably for Brittney Enos at first base, moving in from the right field and left field spots she mainly occupied in 2017. May hit .321 with 18 runs scored and 11 RBI and also roped a pair of home runs.

Runners-up

Jada Mosley, Rantoul

Jerzie Grob, Rantoul

Taylor May, Fisher

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Softball, Sports

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