For Kermitria Ward, it’ll be hard to top the final snapshots of her high school softball career.
Ward threw the 11th no-hitter in UIL state softball tournament history in leading Midway to a state title, its first since 1998.
She threw 15 scoreless innings at state, gave up two hits and no runs in two wins, and she was hoisted up on her teammates’ shoulders well before it was announced she was the tourney MVP.
Oh, and she drove in the game winner in the state title game, too.
For the player who’s known around school as the quintessential softball player, life was good to Ward this year.
“Before the season, I sat down with my daddy and I set goals for myself,” Ward said. “I had three goals: get 300 strikeouts, get player of the year and win state.”
She checked off all three.
First came the strikeout total. She easily surpassed it, eventually breaking the next plateau as well en route to 401 strikeouts this year.
The other two were soon in coming.
Size has never been Ward’s selling point as one of the most dominant Midway pitchers on record.
A baffling array of speed, on the other hand, served as her calling card throughout her career.
Her dominant riseball has been clocked as fast as 64 mph, and while its never been measured, she estimates her changeup crosses the plate at about 35-40 mph.
How she can torque her arm at just the right angles to create such devastating pitches as such a diminutive pitcher is a mystery even to her.
“I really don’t know,” Ward said. “I’m naturally built with muscles. I guess I got it from my daddy, I don’t know.”
The defining point of Ward’s career was arguably Midway’s most recent playoff run. She pitched every game and never surrendered more than two runs.
With Ward carrying Midway, the Pantherettes didn’t lose in the playoffs once. For the Texas Tech commit, who isn’t even sure she’ll pitch at the next level, it was quite a way to go.
“We didn’t think about that we haven’t been beaten until we got to state, and we looked at the other teams and they had been beaten in the postseason,” Ward said. “And we were like, ‘We got this.’ ”
Ward certainly did.
Coach of the Year:
Sherry Rogers, Midway
There’s going out with style, and then there’s going out like Sherry Rogers.
The long-time Midway coach announced her retirement from coaching earlier this year, and her team followed up by taking her on a state title-winning journey to polish off her career in grand fashion.
After the game, Rogers compared the Hollywood-like scene to something out of the movie “The Blind Side.”
Now, as she heads off into the sunset for good, the Midway coach for 18 years is still trying to come to terms with a whirlwind career that came to a close at the pinnacle.
“Wow,” said Rogers, who adds her fifth Super Centex coach of the year award this year. “I don’t think words can express the feelings you felt. The state championship to go out was definitely an added bonus. But the 17 years before that were phenomenal.”
By any measure.
Rogers leaves Midway as the state’s all-time winningest softball coach. She ended her career an astonishing 486-91-8, including a 185-5 run in district play encapsulating 18 straight district titles.
Midway was all Rogers ever knew as a coach. She took over the role in 1993 for her first coaching job, and she immediately led Midway to an undefeated record and the state tournament.
Over the years, Rogers watched as the sport gradually moved from the periphery to the fore, a process in which she played no small part.
For now, Rogers moves on to coach fifth-grade PE, but she admits she’ll always be known as “coach” among the Midway faithful.
“It’s been a great ride,” Rogers said. “I was just glad to be driving the bus.”
Newcomer of the Year:
Sarah Beth Toben, Reicher
Disney World really was the most magical place on earth for Sarah Beth Toben this year.
But it wasn’t necessarily for the most obvious reasons.
Toben faced a moderate amount of pressure coming in as a freshman for a Reicher team fresh off a run to a state title game appearance.
She felt it, too, until the team took a trip to play a tournament at Disney World early in the season.
“I just remember the first practice whenever I was pitching to everybody,” Toben said. “I was really nervous. But they accepted me easily.”
Toben also proved her mettle on the field in Florida, where she impressed to such a degree that she stole the starting pitching role from a pair of seasoned seniors in front of her.
A state title for Reicher led by the freshman phenom appears to have vindicated the move.
“The seniors and the upperclassmen were really welcoming to all of us freshmen,” Toben said. “They were a big help in bringing us all together.”
Toben certainly played her part.
She went 27-3 from the circle with a 1.01 ERA and drove home 45 runs with a sky-high batting average.
Reicher fans will be eager for an encore.
2010 SUPER CENTEX SOFTBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Kermitria Ward, Midway
Newcomer of the Year: Sarah Beth Toben, Reicher
Coach of the Year: Sherry Rogers, Midway
|SS||Brooke Clark||Sr||.355||30||China Spring|
|P||Stephanie Roberts||Jr||11-6||1.26||China Spring|
Catchers: Alyssa Richards, Italy; Taryn Kelm, Lorena; Kelley Schaefer, Midway
Infielders: Paige Chambers and Shelby Watson, Gatesville; Megan Richards, Anna Viers and Drew Windham, Italy; Emily Jaska, Lorena; Celeste Hefelfinger, Mart; Valerie Ramirez and Monique Miller, Midway; Kate Harrison and Courtney Colunga, Reicher; Skylar Savage and Julie Thornton, Rosebud-Lott
Outfielders: Meagan Terry and Kaymee Gooden, Mart; Morgan Johnson and Meredith Bristow, Midway; Briana Olvera, Reicher
Allowed nine stolen bases all year and was second on the team with 52 hits. Also had a .988 fielding percentage.
Leadoff hitter’s gap-to-gap hitting helped Reicher blow past opponents and capture state title.
Eye-popping .633 average, 38 RBIs and four HRs gave a loaded West lineup a serious power boost.
Cargill led Rockettes’ youthful infusion at top of lineup, swiping 25 bases in state tourney season.
Her 55 RBIs were the area’s best total by miles, and powerful swing led Crawford to district title.
Four-year starter slugged .711 and broke school home run record with 15 for her career.
First-team all-district selection for good reason, she was Robinson’s young cornerstone in the lineup.
Hard-hitting outfielder took pressure off team by posting an .824 slugging percentage with four HRs.
Junior’s prodigious power and savvy behind the plate led McGregor to its first playoff series win in history.
Robertson did much more than hit consistently, as her perfect fielding percentage can attest.
Often described as unhittable, Ward struck out as many as 24 batters in a single game this season.
Anz shined at state, where she threw 23 innings and only allowed a single run in a 12-inning title game loss.
Cooper navigated around batters with ease as one of Robinson’s two seniors, striking out 142.
Carried Mart to state by allowing just two runs before semifinals. Struck out 223 in 129 innings.
Struck out 321 batters as Gatesville workhorse, but also hit .408 and drove in 34 runs from plate.
Lorena’s top option tossed 214 strikeouts in 181 innings and threw 11 shutouts for district title-winning team.
SARAH BETH TOBEN
First-year pitcher won 27 games, had a 1.01 ERA and threw 277 strikeouts. Hit .514 and drove in 45 RBIs, too.
Rogers’ 486th win was a state title, which ended her career with a pair of them after 18 years.