For someone who didn't have the strength to throw the ball 10 feet in tryouts, Kyrstin Lekki has come a long way.
The Niagara-Wheatfield junior recovered from the effects of a burst appendix in February to earn Western New York Player of the Year honors.
For the second year, Chelsea Plimpton of Williamsville South was named Pitcher of the Year.
Lekki was medically cleared in time for her team's first practice in early March. She played every inning in the field and approached every at-bat with a passion. "You could tell she was on sort of a mission," said coach Eric Belter. "She knows that the team relies on her. She's a team-first player."
Lekki batted .531 with 27 RBIs and 22 runs scored, but she really showed her value when the game was on the line. She beat Kenmore West with a two-run triple in the eighth inning of a 4-1 win and had a walk-off grand slam to beat Lockport.
"We went to Florida and after Florida, everything fell into place," said Lekki, whose surgery is scheduled for mid-August. "I played travel with the seniors since I was about 10. I couldn't not play because of them."
Williamsville South (27-2) won the Section VI Class A title and lost in the Far West Regionals. Plimpton ended her amazing career as a two-time All-American with two state titles. Among the five state records she holds is career strikeouts: 1,427. Of her 109 wins, 78 were by shutout. She had 23 K's in one game. She also beat out competitors from 47 other states to win the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year.
Coach Gerry Gentner called Plimpton "a once in a lifetime student-athlete." She will study communications at St. John's and continue her career in the Big East Conference.
Lekki and Plimpton were among 14 players chosen to the 2007 All-Western New York team by area coaches.
Junior Sam Eimers led Ripley to its seventh straight sectional final appearance and a school record 24 wins. Ripley won the Section VI Class D before losing in the Far West Regionals. Eimers finished with state records in homers (13) and runs scored (53) while batting .635. She drove in 57 runs in 28 games.
Coach Mike Torrance credited Eimers' success to three things: "She doesn't have an attitude, she doesn't deal with boys and she doesn't have these cell phones. This kid impresses me so much I can't stand it. She's the most dynamic kid I've ever had."
A pitch for Dunkirk
Amanda Mazurek has continued the tradition of strong pitching at Dunkirk. She's added her name to the list that already includes Casey Mazurek, Amanda Waite, Heather Kuzara, Tonya Kusza, Jessica Kaus, Holly Draves and Amanda Wesling.
Mazurek struck out a school-record 236 and allowed just three earned runs in 12 league games. "She set a new standard without a doubt," said coach John Sliwa. "We never had a pitcher top 200 strikeouts."
Mazurek used a variety of pitches and locations to average 10 strikeouts per game. She helped the Marauders dethrone Falconer to win CCAA I. She will continue her career at Jamestown CC and study nursing.
Debby Schruefer of Frontier was named WNY Coach of the Year. The Falcons (19-7) lost in the Class AA state semifinals to Long Beach. . . . The only sophomore to make first team All-Western New York was pitcher Katie Bartkowiak of state Class B finalist Fredonia. Bartowiak was 12-3 and helped herself with a .545 batting average. . . . Cleveland Hill junior Alyssa Luksch had 10 doubles to break the school record held by the late Nan Harvey. . . . . Sacred Heart (13-1) won a third straight Monsignor Martin Association championship as four-year starter Alison Pyszczynski got the job done on and off the field, batting .435 and carrying a 4.09 academic average. . . . Alden's Jordan Rutkowski did not strike out all season. . . . City Honors won its fifth straight Thompson Trophy title behind Pitcher of the Year Emily Zuchlewski. . . . Lisa Fronczak of South ended her career second all-time in hits 148. . . . Exceptional speed makes South junior Lauren Falzone the "toughest out in Western New York," according to Gentner.