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In softball, it is easy to determine who is the most feared batter in a lineup.
A simple review of the statistics will reveal which player has the most runs batted in.
As a defensive player, the spotlight is not nearly as bright.
In fact, two of the most important and common statistics used to measure talent -- fielding percentage and errors -- are half bad.
I've always wondered what it would look like if defensive players were credited for the amount of runs they save. Call it, DRS, or defensive runs saved. Omar Vizquel averaged 59 RBI during the peak of his career with the Cleveland Indians, but he probably came close to that number -- or higher -- in defensive runs saved.
When playing in the field, routine defensive plays are expected and not celebrated. At the plate, the easiest hit, a single, is still unexpected since 70 percent of the time even a great hitter can't achieve it.
However, from time to time, an explosion of defensive energy can be jolted into a team by a diving catch, a bare-handed scoop of a chopper or reaching over the wall to rob a home run.
Golden plays by golden gloves.
Those same plays happen on a regular basis throughout Portage County so in what I intend to introduce as an annual feature, here is my first-ever High School Softball Gold Glove Award winners.
Dee Dee Harrigan
Crestwood first baseman
Statistics: .980 fielding percentage, 2 errors, 102 chances.
Coach Luke Darrah: "Dee Dee has shown much improvement over the last two years."
Statistics: Zero errors, 201 total chances, 189 putouts.
Coach Beth Dyer: "Kasey is one of the best fielders every time she steps on the field. She has the ability to read the ball well and is consistently making plays, whether she is a catcher or shortstop."
Garfield third baseman
Statistics: .897 fielding percentage, 4 double plays, 3 pick-off assists.
Coach Tina Downing: "Taylor possesses an amazing defensive talent. A catcher by nature, she made the switch to third base last year for the betterment of her team. Her reaction to the ball off the bat is incredible and her arm is a cannon. Due to pitch calling, Taylor gets a ton of shots right at her on the hot corner. She had 106 chances this year, second only to our first baseman. Whether it's covering bunts or fielding wicked line drives, there is no one else I'd rather have making plays than T. Brown."
Statistics: .936 fielding percentage.
Coach Tom Pollock: "Lexie is a very smooth player and makes hard plays look easy. She understands the game and is ready for situations before they happen. She started for us at shortstop all four years."
Statistics: .917 fielding percentage, 4 errors.
Coach Dawn Booher: "Amanda has great range and can get to many balls that other middle-fielders would miss. She is aggressive and fast, which helps her get to those balls."
Southeast third baseman
Statistics: 45 assists, .901 fielding percentage.
Coach Dave Dubinsky: "She led our team in assists fro the hot corner. She showed great poise fielding toughs hots and looking to cut down the lead runner."
Streetsboro first baseman
Statistics: 79 putouts, 17 assists, 5 errors, .950 fielding percentage.
Coach Tim Foster: "Maddy started the year at third base, but moved to her natural position at first base about halfway through season. Her fielding percentage at first base was .986. Her softball smarts and her gold glove at first helped us with two of our three wins this season. She made her defensive teammates so much better after I moved her to first, as she seemed to just be a vacuum for throws that were not always on target. Although we did not find much success this season, Maddy's defense at first base was a bright spot that gives me a lot of hope for next year."
Waterloo third bsaeman
Coach Brenda Flarida: "Layla fields anything that comes her way. She does an excellent job in bunt coverage. She is just a great glove on the corner."
Coach Elliot Thompson: "Emma came in and established herself from day one and improved that position head and shoulders above where we were last year, allowing us to move some other kids to a more natural position. She also hit .360 at leadoff for us."