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All-Area Softball Player of the Year: Courtney Layne, Appomattox

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Courtney Layne

SCHOOL: Appomattox

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Pitcher

ALL-STAR STUFF: Layne posted incredible numbers in the circle early on in her career, and only kept improving. This year, she reached her peak. Evidence came in the form of a state championship — a second straight for a program that had only won it all once, in the 1980s, before the 2021 season. In ’21 and this year, Layne was largely to thank for those trophies: she had perfect games in each of the title tilts, and also was perfect in this season’s state semifinal game. Layne — who also was a force at the plate this year with a .457 batting average, 34 RBIs, 12 doubles, a triple and five home runs — cemented her legacy as one of the best pitchers in Virginia High School League history. She will enter the top 10 in the record book in multiple categories for the numbers she put up this season, including ERA (0.16, good for a tie for fifth and pushing her 0.23 ERA from last year to seventh); strikeouts per game (ninth at 13.5 per game); no-hitters (tied for first with 10); and consecutive shutouts (tied for first at 17). She also now has the second-best career ERA in the state (and best for a pitcher since the turn of the century) at 0.23 and is third for career perfect games with nine. Layne, who is headed to play at UVa, rounded out her time at Appomattox with a 49-2 record and 677 strikeouts (good for a strikeouts-per-seven-innings rate of 15.7). She was named this season’s Dogwood District pitcher of the year, and Region 2C and Class 2 player of the year. She earned the title of Virginia player of the year from MaxPreps, and picked up a pair of awards from Extra Inning Softball. The organization named her its national player of the week following her final high school outings, and later a first-team All-American pitcher. 

Scroll to the bottom of the Q&A with Layne to see the All-Area Softball Teams.


Q: You’ve said before that this has been your best season. Now that you’ve had a few days (this interview was conducted in mid-June), do you still believe that?

A: Yeah, definitely. Each year, I’ve gotten better and the team’s gotten better stats-wise and playing-wise. This year was definitely the highest for me.

Q: You had the same number of perfect games this year as last year, but would’ve been short without throwing those two in the last two games of the year in the state semifinals and finals. Did you think about that at all heading in?

A: I didn’t really think about it that much, especially in playoffs. I was just focusing on winning that game and trying my best to keep the runs off the board. I feel like one of the main focuses this year was each game, not letting them score, giving my team the best opportunity to score. It was more of that focus than how many perfect games I could get.

Q: The semifinals and championship for what they meant and the gravity of those moments have to be highlights in terms of games, but were there other games this season as being particularly fun or good games for you?

A: The whole season was great, but definitely beating some of the [then-reigning] state championship teams [Amherst and Rustburg], those were really good games for us. Dan River, they’ve always been big competition for us for four years, so those two games [this year] were really good. The regional championship [against them], that was fun at some moments. But definitely some of the tighter games were some of the best games in my opinion, not the slaughter rule. Beating some of the higher schools [like Class 3, Class 4], I think that’s big for us since we’re just a [Class] 2 school.

Q: What’s it like seeing younger girls look up to you in Appomattox?

A: It’s definitely crazy. I never would’ve imagined people wanting to take pictures with me and wanting me to sign balls. The whole team signed like four or five balls closer to the playoffs. It’s definitely really cool to watch the future generation looking up to us. Softball has grown so much in just the past few years. It’s a big sport now. People just enjoy watching it. I feel good knowing that even if it’s like the smallest impact just on my hometown, I had that impact, to show them that you can win and you don’t have to be 6-foot tall to be a good pitcher and you don’t have to be huge to hit home runs. You can do whatever you want as long as your work ethic is there.

Q: I think what so many people look at when it comes to Appomattox is football. But what’s it like to be part of a program that has been so dominant now that you’re in the same conversation?

A: The football team, they’ve been unreal these past few years. … It’s definitely cool to be in that same conversation, and I feel like the softball team is gonna be like and is like the football program by [continuing to get] talent. We have a good JV team. They went undefeated. … They have some really good players on that team possibly moving up. In future years, I definitely see them still making a run for it, just like the football team and how they just keep building and winning state championships. I think softball is heading in that direction too.

Q: Do you feel like your team also provides for the community? Do you feel like you, as an athlete, can provide some hope?

A: Appomattox is a relatively small town, so everyone knows everyone. High school is probably the biggest entertainment for most people in Appomattox, so I definitely think sports help bring our town together, whether it’s football, baseball, softball, however. It definitely helps us get through hard times, like the tornado, or [football] coach [Doug] Smith, when he got diagnosed with cancer. Everyone … came to football supporting. You can just really see how close our town is and how supportive they are, so it’s really cool to see the sports team bring awareness when things go wrong. … It’s definitely an Appomattox thing.

Q: Which of your career or season stats stand out to you?

A: Definitely the ERA one for career [0.23], that’s pretty cool just to see my entire career number. Also another one that stands out is the [tie for first all-time for] consecutive shutouts [17]. That’s insane to me just to think of how long we went without giving up a run. That one’s pretty cool.

Q: Why does the career ERA number stand out?

A: Probably just because thinking back freshman year to senior year, I feel like I’m two completely different people. I’m definitely a better pitcher senior year than freshman year. … That I was able to improve each year is really awesome to look back on, I think that’s the main reason. Just to see how much progress I’ve made, even though my freshman year numbers were still good.

Q: Is there anything you would change about this season?

A: Probably not.

Q: What was the best part of the season, outside of winning the state championship?

A: Probably two things. Getting close with my team. I met a bunch of people I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for softball, and I’ve made a lot of really good friends. We’re all basically a family. Even their moms and dads, I feel like they’re second [parents] to me through the sport. So that’s pretty cool to see my teammates just become really good friends of mine that will last a lifetime. And then like we’ve said before, bringing the town closer together. This was softball’s first time ever going back to back. It was cool to see everyone come out to the game [this year], and even go out to baseball [that same day] to watch their first program title. It was cool to see how passionate they were for us and how happy they were.

Q: Are you as strong as you are because you do Crossfit?

A: I wouldn’t say Crossfit, but it’s set up like that. But definitely that’s a huge part of why I’m here because I’m pretty small for softball. I’m 5-3, don’t weight a lot. Getting muscle and getting a little more weight on me has helped me throw harder, go longer, last seven innings a game.

Q: Do you have any superstitions?

A: No. But a lot of my teammates did. … I didn’t really have any crazy superstitions. I will say I had one hairstyle, toward the end of the playoffs, I was like, “I’m keeping this hairstyle until the championship game.”

Q: Did you have a postgame or pregame meal you liked?

A: We went to Subway a lot during playoffs, so that was good to chill there until we had to go warm up, so I would say that maybe.

Q: Do you listen to any particular type of music to get pumped up for games?

A: I mainly listen to country music, but Carrington [Moore], our third baseman, she’s like the DJ of the team. She played all kinds of good music for us on the bus and warming up.

Q: What’s your dream vacation?

A: I would really like to go to Hawaii.

Q: Favorite TV show or movie?

A: I don’t really watch that much TV. I watch Netflix. … This is probably common, but the “Outer Banks” series, that’s fun to watch. I just recently watched “Top Gun.” That was a really good movie.

Q: Favorite subject in school?

A: Probably English. I don’t really like math that much.

Q: If you could have dinner with anybody, who would it be?

A: Definitely someone with softball. … Maybe with, like, Jennie Finch, just because she’s basically one of the best pitchers of all time, and she’s what’s gotten softball to what it is today. She’s opened the door to so many other athletes and pitchers, so probably her, just to hear her talk and see what she went through at her time as an athlete.

Q: If you had all the money in the world, what kind of cause would you passionate about supporting?

A: Definitely something with sports. Maybe it’s giving kids equipment who aren’t able to afford it, or anything like that. Softball has brought so many opportunities for me. A lot of people don’t get the chances that I get. … Even if it’s a glove or a bat, giving them the opportunities and letting them have the same opportunities I have to where maybe they could end up in my position one day.

Q: Anything people don’t know about you?

A: I love going out to coffee shops. I’m a huge coffee drinker. Whenever I travel, that’s the first thing I look for — where’s a local coffee shop.


All-Area Softball Teams

FIRST TEAM

Courtney Layne

Position: Pitcher

Eden Bigham

SCHOOL: Rustburg

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Pitcher

ALL-STAR STUFF: Named Seminole District pitcher of the year and to the Seminole and Region 3C first teams, also earning second-team accolades in Class 3. … Helped the Red Devils to the Region 3C quarterfinals, posting a 17-3 record (13-0 in Seminole District play), seven shutouts and six no-hitters, including one perfect game. … Recorded a 0.70 ERA, allowed 35 hits, issued 19 walks and tallied 280 strikeouts in 130 innings pitched (good for 15.1 Ks per seven innings). … Broke the Rustburg record (held by her mom and coach, Katie Bigham) for career strikeouts, finishing with 852. … For her career, recorded a 0.57 ERA, a 15.2 strikeouts-per-seven-innings rate, 17 total no hitters, six perfect games, 29 shutouts and a 51-9 record. … Will appear nine times in the top 10 of five different pitching categories in the Virginia High School League record book (consecutive shutouts, strikeouts per game for each season, no-hitters in a season, single-season ERA and career ERA).

Kelsey Hackett

SCHOOL: Appomattox

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Shortstop

ALL-STAR STUFF: Helped Appomattox to a second straight perfect season and second consecutive title — recording the game-winning double in the championship game — as the team’s leading hitter, posting a whopping .577 batting average. … Recorded 33 RBIs and 25 extra-base hits, including a team-high eight home runs, to go with a team-best 22 stolen bases (on 23 attempts) and a perfect fielding percentage. … Was named Dogwood District player of the year and earned first-team all-state (Class 2), all-region (Region 2C) and all-district (Dogwood) accolades.

Macee Hargis

SCHOOL: Appomattox

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: First base

ALL-STAR STUFF: Batted .464 with a team-leading 45 RBIs amassed via 32 hits. … Tallied 14 doubles and five homers, including one in the state semifinal game. … Posted a 1.000 fielding percentage. … Earned first-team honors in the Dogwood District, Region 2C and Class 2.

Taylor Foutz

SCHOOL: Staunton River

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Second base

ALL-STAR STUFF: Helped SRHS to a 19-4 record, including 14 straight wins to start the season and a 9-1 mark in Blue Ridge District play. … Also helped the Golden Eagles to an appearance in the Region 3D quarterfinals. … Recorded a .352 batting average, .418 on-base percentage and .535 slugging percentage. ... Tallied 10 RBIs and committed just one error. … Picked up first-team honors in the district and earned an honorable mention in Region 3D.

Sienna Fielder

SCHOOL: Amherst

YEAR: Junior

POSITION: Third base

ALL-STAR STUFF: Helped Amherst to a 15-5 record and a trip to the Region 4D quarterfinals. … Recorded a .333 batting average with a .367 on-base percentage and .378 slugging percentage, tallying seven RBIs. … Committed only two errors. … Recognized as a member of the Seminole District first team.

Jordyn Robbins

SCHOOL: Liberty Christian

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Catcher

ALL-STAR STUFF: Recorded seven games with multiple hits, including a 3-for-3, three-RBI performance (with a double and home run) late in the season against Jefferson Forest. … Tallied 17 RBIs and posted a .373 batting average to go with a .706 slugging percentage, bolstered by six total doubles, a triple and three homers. … Picked up a first-team nod in the Seminole District.

Haleigh Tweedy

SCHOOL: Appomattox

YEAR: Junior

POSITION: Outfielder

ALL-STAR STUFF: Finished fourth on the team with a .448 batting average, as one of six Appomattox players to hit better than .400. … Recorded 18 RBIs, two doubles and team-high four triples to go with three home runs. … Was second on the team with 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts. … Committed just one error on the year. … Earned spots on the first team in the Dogwood, Region 2C and Class 2.

Liz Pennington

SCHOOL: Brookville

YEAR: Senior

POSITION: Outfielder

ALL-STAR STUFF: Helped BHS to a 14-7 record, including its first region semifinal berth since 2017. … As the Bees’ power hitter, recorded an .815 slugging percentage thanks to seven doubles, a triple and five home runs. … Also tallied a team-high 22 RBIs with a .370 batting average. … Garnered a first-team nod in the Seminole District and was a second-team selection in Region 3C at at-large.

Emily Purcell

SCHOOL: Appomattox

YEAR: Junior

POSITION: Outfielder

ALL-STAR STUFF: Recorded a .447 batting average, and posted hits against top-tier pitchers in the Seminole District. … Finished with 10 RBIs, three doubles and one triple. … Earned second-team honors in the Dogwood District and Region 2C.

Raleigh Dudley

SCHOOL: Liberty Christian

YEAR: Junior

POSITION: Utility

ALL-STAR STUFF: Was a dual-threat player for the Bulldogs, batting .468 to go with a 6-10 record in the circle, where she posted a 2.01 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 121 strikeouts. … Also had a .758 slugging percentage and 11 RBIs. … Picked up second-team honors at pitcher in the Seminole District.

Tyah Charlton

SCHOOL: Amherst

YEAR: Sophomore

POSITION: At-large

ALL-STAR STUFF: Led the Lancers at the plate with a .517 average. … Also posted a .469 on-base percentage and .948 slugging percentage on her way to 20 RBIs. … Earned second-team all-state honors in Class 4 and was named the player of the year (in addition to garnering first-team honors) in Region 4D and the Seminole District.

Sawyer Tolley

SCHOOL: Staunton River

YEAR: Sophomore

POSITION: At-large

ALL-STAR STUFF: Batted .388 with a .447 on-base percentage. … Also recorded a .791 slugging percentage and 25 RBIs. … Was selected to the Blue Ridge District first team and earned an honorable mention in Region 3D.

SECOND TEAM

Emily Wood (Staunton River, Soph., Pitcher): As part of her 13-4 campaign, posted a 1.57 ERA (18 earned runs in 103 innings pitched, and just 24 runs overall) and a 0.81 WHIP (60 hits and 23 walks). … Also recorded 126 strikeouts. … Earned first-team honors in the Blue Ridge District and a spot on the Region 3D second team.

Destiny Calloway (Brookville, Sr., Pitcher): Threw 116 innings for the Bees, recording 156 strikeouts and posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. … Also was a power hitter for BHS with a .740 slugging percentage, bolstered by four home runs, and .420 batting average. … Tallied 18 RBIs. … Named to the first team in the Seminole District and Region 3C.

Dylan McNerney (Amherst, Jr., Pitcher): Posted a 15-4 record across 120 innings pitched. … Struck out 158 while issuing just 18 walks and finished with a 1.75 ERA. … Also batted .391, had a .473 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage and tallied 14 RBIs. … Garnered first-team accolades in the Seminole and Region 4D.

Delaney Scharnus (Rustburg, Sr., Shortstop): Had a .283 batting average, .397 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. … Tallied 16 RBIs. … Committed just two errors. … Earned second-team honors in the Seminole District.

Ashley Ferguson (Brookville, Jr., First base): Hit .288 and posted a .577 slugging percentage thanks to seven extra-base hits (three doubles and four home runs). … Tallied 15 RBIs. … Named to the Seminole District first team.

Katie Kidd (Jefferson Forest, Jr., Second base): Helped JF to a 12-9 record and a trip to the Region 4D semifinals. … Posted a .391 batting average with a .406 slugging percentage. … Tallied 12 runs scored and nine RBIs to go with a .914 fielding percentage. … Named to the Seminole District first team.

Destiny Jones (Rustburg, Jr., Third base): Hit .255 and posted a .397 on-base percentage and .667 slugging percentage. … Finished with 14 RBIs. … Picked up second-team honors in the Seminole.

Abby Wilkerson (Appomattox, Sr., Catcher): Served as the stalwart behind the plate for pitcher Courtney Layne, recording just one passed ball to go with a perfect fielding percentage. … Came up with important hits in postseason play, on the way to 19 hits in 65 at-bats for a .292 average. … Recorded seven doubles and 16 RBIs. … Earned second-team accolades in the Dogwood District.

Jada Fyffe (Brookville, Jr., Outfielder): Finished with a .414 batting average and.528 slugging percentage. … Tallied three extra-base hits (one double and two triples) along with 13 RBIs. … Snagged first-team honors in the Seminole and was a second-team selection in Region 3C.

Kaelyn Ramsey (Amherst, Sr., Outfielder): Hit .385 and recorded a .577 slugging percentage. … Tallied 12 RBIs. … Also was reliable in the field, committing just one error. … Garnered first-team honors in both the Seminole District and Region 4D.

Maggie Mayhew (Rustburg, Jr., Outfielder): Posted a .329 batting average. … Tallied four RBIs from the leadoff spot in the Red Devils’ lineup. … Recorded three doubles for a .371 slugging percentage. … Named to the Seminole District first team.

Abigail Jones (E.C. Glass, Soph., Utility): Played in the infield and pitched, recording a 1.94 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched. … Also hit .440 with a .563 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage. … Got extra bases on half of her 11 hits (two doubles and four home runs). … Led the team in batting average and hits along with RBIs (tied for the lead at six). … Was a first-team selection in the Seminole at utility and second-team selection in Region 4D at at-large.

Kady Gordon (Liberty, Soph., Designated player/flex): Served as a dual threat for LHS, recording a.447 average at the plate and posting a 1.75 WHIP and 84 strikeouts as pitcher. … Also had 14 RBIs and recorded two shutouts in the circle, including one against Staunton River that snapped the Golden Eagles’ 14-game win streak to start the season. … Earned first-team honors in Region 3C at the designated player/flex position and was a second-team selection at pitcher in the Seminole.

Emma Blankinship (Rustburg, Soph., At-large): Led Rustburg at the plate with a .352 batting average to go with a .387 on-base percentage and .451 slugging percentage. … Garnered second-team honors in Region 3C and the Seminole.

Aubrey Fulcher (Appomattox, Soph., At-large): Hit .404 with 10 RBIs, two doubles and a home run, recorded in the state semifinals. … Committed just one error. … Finished third on the team in stolen bases with 10 in 12 attempts. … Named to the second team in the Dogwood District and Region 2C.

HONORABLE MENTION

Gillian Faris (Jefferson Forest), Ambrye Taylor (Nelson), Maegan Lloyd (Amherst), Taryn Campbell (Amherst), Michaela Williams (Appomattox), McKayla Padgett (Amherst), Kayleigh Dobyns (Brookville), Kayleigh Combs (Amherst), Nahla Bigham (Rustburg), Kaylie Hudson (Brookville).

COACH OF THE YEAR

Janet Rawes

SCHOOL: Appomattox

ALL-STAR STUFF: It was another perfect year for the Raiders under Rawes. After capturing a second straight Class 2 state title, Rawes and ACHS saw their win streak stretch to 40 straight games over two seasons, a mark that also included an eye-popping 17 straight shutouts to end the 2022 campaign. Rawes, who now has three state rings to her name after helping the Raiders capture the program’s first in her playing days in the 1980s, coached her team to a .387 batting average (two-thirds of the lineup hit better than .400) and a .638 slugging percentage (thanks to 56 doubles, 15 triples and 22 home runs). ACHS averaged nearly one RBI for every hit (with 227 total RBIs on 235 hits) and also posted a .985 fielding percentage, 57 stolen bases (on 67 attempts) and 23 total shutouts. Rawes was named the Region 2C and Class 2 coach of the year.

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