Kori Wancheck nearly won the Herald’s All-Area Softball Player of the Year award in 2013 after a dominant season for the Northwestern Trojans.
With an improved team behind her, Wancheck was a no-brainer for the award this year. The USC Upstate commitment threw an early-season no-hitter against South Pointe, and struck out 10-plus batters in 15 of her team’s 23 games, including the season’s first 13 in a row. In all, Wancheck, an All-State junior, sent 248 batters moping their way back to consoling teammates, struck out.
Lancaster players are among the many teams that can vouch for the feeling. Wancheck fanned a combined 23 batters in a pair of wins over the Bruins.
“My gosh, we couldn’t even get a bat on it,” said Lancaster coach Kim Perry. “She’s what a coach would look for – great attitude, great leadership ability.”
Northwestern softball coach Bryan Smith is the 2014 All-Area Coach of the Year after guiding his Trojans to a 20-3 record and the first region softball championship in school history. He credited Wancheck’s surge in pitching production to a honing of her killer instinct in the pitching circle.
“Just putting people away when she had them on the ropes, which is something she had struggled with in the past.” Smith said Wancheck really began to find “that maturity to finish off a hitter when you’ve got them where you want them.”
The Trojans’ hurler wasn’t just a one-trick show-horse either. Wancheck hit .388 for the Trojans, bashing four home runs and knocking in 22 runs, and she set the tone for her team verbally and performance-wise, exactly what a coach wants to see from their best player.
“Kori just lives, eats and breathes softball,” said Smith. “She’s a leader for the team by her work ethic, by her words, she encourages them, and then she leads them by being one of the best players in the state.”
Smith’s team graduates just two players and Wancheck isn’t one of them; the Trojans return two All-Region sophomores, Daina Chase and Rachel Marion, who made All-State, and an All-Region freshman, Wancheck’s younger sister Cassie. Kori Wancheck’s numbers jumped from her sophomore to junior seasons, and unfortunately for local softball teams, they’ll probably surge again next spring.
“That is great news for us, and hopefully bad news for everyone else,” said Smith.
Kori Wancheck, Northwestern: All-State and All-Region junior right-hander was one of the most dominant pitchers in South Carolina this spring, going 20-3 with a 1.41 earned run average. Wancheck struck out 248 batters and walked just 39 in 163 innings of pitching work, while limiting opposing batters to a .186 average. She also batted .388 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.
Rachel Marion, Northwestern: Sophomore catcher was named All-State and All-Region after batting .413 with six home runs and 18 RBIs. Marion also hit eight doubles and had a .488 on-base percentage.
Marisa Harkey, Clover: Junior shortstop was named All-Region and All-State after leading the area with nine home runs and 41 RBIs. Harkey, committed to Furman, batted .441, hit nine doubles and scored 40 runs for the Blue Eagles.
Blake Wallert, Clover: Another hard-hitting Blue Eagle, Wallert was named All-Region after batting .487 with two home runs and 28 RBIs. Wallert, a junior infielder committed to Winthrop, also stole 10 bases and scored 28 runs.
Brittany Rhinehardt, Clover: All-Region senior centerfielder hit .457 this spring. Rhinehardt, who signed with Erskine College, hit two home runs, eight triples, drove in 26 runs, and stole 19 bases.
Dee Ealey, Lewisville: Senior third baseman was named All-State and picked to compete in the North-South all-star game after batting .511. Ealey hit two homers and drove in 40 runs. She’ll play college softball at Barton.
Callie Murphy, Lewisville: Senior catcher was named All-Region and also selected to play in the North-South all-star game. Murphy batted .429 with a home run and 25 RBIs.
Ta’Mya Davis, Lewisville: Junior second baseman was an All-Region selection after she hit six home runs, knocked in 36 runs and finished the spring with a .494 batting average.
Autumn Henson, Great Falls: Junior third baseman hit .563 for the Red Devils and cleanly fielded 89 percent of her defensive opportunities.
Elizabeth Edmunds, Clover: All-Region junior pitcher went 22-8 with a 2.33 earned run average and 112 strikeouts. Edmunds also batted .366 for the Blue Eagles.
Brooke Rhinehardt, Clover: All-Region senior moved to catcher for the Blue Eagles and hit .312 with 16 RBIs. Like her sister, Rhinehardt is signed with Erskine.
Kaela Robinson, Lancaster: Junior shortstop fielded 94 percent of her defensive chances cleanly and also hit .428 en route to an All-Region selection.
Cassie Wancheck, Northwestern: Freshman shortstop batted .468 with five doubles and 11 RBIs. Wancheck got on base 52.9 percent of the time.
Darby Trull, Nation Ford: Freshman, two-time all region player who hit .433, 14 RBIs in the lead off spot, 26 runs scored, 9 stolen bases.
Autumn Jordan, Lewisville: Junior centerfielder, .451 avg., 1 HR, 25 RBIs.
Chloe Thomas, Lewisville: Eighth grade pitcher, 12-1 W-L, 6 saves, 1.53 ERA, 79 Ks.
Bayley Hinson, Rock Hill: Junior shortstop hit .409 with 11 RBIs.
Alli Yarborough, Indian Land: All-Region junior centerfielder, .444 average, 5 doubles, 11 RBIs, 1 home run, fielding percentage of 98.
Carolyn Thompson, Nation Ford; Daina Chase, Northwestern; Brooke Love, Lewisville; Kayla Price, Indian Land; Daniella Wilson, Indian Land; Evan Sherer, South Pointe; Elizabeth Gaston, Lancaster; Taylor Rayborn, Fort Mill; Danielle Gibson, Fort Mill; Missy Mavrogian, Fort Mill; Brooke Andrews, York; Rachel Petty, York.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T