LAGRANGE — Players on the Keystone roster might not understand that the Miss Softball award is given to the top senior player in Lorain County every season. That’s because a Wildcats player has captured the award every year they’ve been in high school.
Standout pitcher Sydney Campbell became the school’s fourth straight Miss Softball winner Tuesday night — and 15th overall — when she was presented the award, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola, before the Lorain County Senior All-Stars Softball Game at LaGrange Community Park.
2019 — Sydney Campbell, Keystone
2018 — Madi Nunez, Keystone, and Gabby Shackelford, Midview
2017 — Sammie Stefan, Keystone
2016 — Summer Constable, Keystone
2015 — Anna Edwards, Avon
2014 — Carleigh Herrington, Keystone
2013 — Caitlyn Minney, Elyria
2012 — Kenzie Conrad, Keystone
2011 — Kristen Boros, Elyria
2010 — Melissa Rennie, Wellington
2009 — Tess Sito, Elyria, and Kara Dill, Keystone
2008 — Jillian Van Wagnen, Admiral King
2007 — Sarah Stromack, Keystone
2006 — Kristie Malinkey, Keystone
2005 — Alex Boros, Elyria
2004 — Christina Swiers, Amherst
2003 — Brittney Robinson, Keystone
2002 — Jess Jesko, Firelands
2001 — Megan Meyer, Vermilion
2000 — Lacey Reichert, Amherst
1999 — Amie Leffew, Keystone
1998 — Rachel Baran, Firelands
1997 — Kim Evans, Keystone
1996 — Laura Dragan, North Ridgeville, and Tammy Yount, Elyria
1995 — Jamie Cendrosky, Keystone
1994 — Amy Johnson, Keystone, and Sarah Martin, Keystone
1993 — Ashley Anderson, Elyria
1992 — Heather Zehel, Amherst, and Cassie Wilmoth, Firelands
“Winning that award … it’s one of my dreams that I’ve had for so long,” Campbell said. “It’s just amazing that I’ve been able to accomplish this with my teammates, with all their help, with all my coaches, it’s just a really good feeling to accomplish that goal of mine.”
Campbell put together a performance the past two seasons that is among the best ever in Ohio.
She set the state record for consecutive wins with 63, finishing No. 5 all time in the nation. Her last two defeats came more than two years apart — a loss to Butler on April 15 of her sophomore season and a loss to Hebron Lakewood on May 31 in the Division II state semifinals.
Campbell set county records with four perfect games this season, strikeouts in a five-inning game (15) and career shutouts (50), which matched former Keystone great Brittney Robinson (2000-03).
She fell one short of three other county records with 19 shutouts in a season (Keystone’s Amie Leffew had 20), eight consecutive shutouts (Avon Lake’s Andi Nicholson had nine) and 14 career no-hitters (Keystone’s Kristie Malinkey had 15).
Despite the records, the state championship her junior season and a scholarship to NCAA Division I’s Oakland University, Campbell was convinced she wasn’t the frontrunner for the county’s top award.
“Honestly, coming into today I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to win it because there are so many good people — even pitchers on our (All-Star) team like (Amherst’s) Madison O’Berg and (Keystone teammate) Autumn (Acord) — I really thought I was going to be third in the running actually.”
Campbell follows teammates Madi Nunez — who shared the 2018 Miss Softball award with Midview’s Gabby Shackelford — Sammie Stefan and Summer Constable as the last four winners. Carleigh Herrington won the 2014 award, making it five winners in the last six years for the Wildcats.
“I’m extremely happy for her and our program,” Keystone coach Jim Piazza said during a phone interview Tuesday night. “This is why our program has the tradition it does. You have those players in front of you to show you the way to do it, and you just have to follow the way they have led.
“Sydney will be the first one to tell you this is impossible without the program, but she has worked extremely hard since Day 1. She has shown that if you continue to work hard and believe in yourself, great things are going to happen.”
Some of the other notable Miss Softball winners from Keystone are Kenzie Conrad, Malinkey, Robinson and Leffew — considered some of the greatest pitchers in Lorain County history.
“It’s really cool because I’ve seen them win it and I knew that I wanted to win it,” Campbell said. “Going into freshman year I would never have imagined that right now I’d be a state champion and Miss Softball. It’s crazy. Freshman year, I didn’t even think I’d play varsity. It’s just overwhelming with how great it feels.”
Campbell was the starting pitcher for the Lorain County team — the county’s top seniors faced a team of top players from Cuyahoga County — and the leadoff hitter, which drew a few chuckles from the Keystone faithful as it was just her third at-bat of the season.
She had mixed emotions that Keystone’s home field was chosen as the site of this year’s game.
“We were really sad walking up, me and the other (Keystone) girls,” Campbell said. “We kind of wished it wasn’t here, but at the same time it was nice being able to play here one more time.”
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