CHARLESTON - Hurricane High School won its first Class AAA softball state championship in 2013 in its first trip to the State Tournament.
The milestones continue to fly by for the Redskins program, which today can claim its first state Player of the Year honoree in the form of sophomore pitcher/third baseman Courtney Rogers.
Rogers was 21-3 as a pitcher for the Redskins with 100 strikeouts. She hit .492 with a state-leading 11 home runs, 16 doubles and 60 RBI.
"It feels great," Rogers said when informed of her win. "I know there's a lot of good players in this state who have gotten it too."
Rogers narrowly edged Cabell Midland senior third baseman Morgan Zerkle in voting for the award by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association. Zerkle, who hit .651 with four homers, eight triples and 23 RBI as the Knights' leadoff hitter won the Gatorade Player of the Year award Thursday. She has signed to play college softball at Marshall.
John Marshall senior shortstop Kylie Howard (.404, 2 HR, 6 triples and 30 RBI) and Ritchie County freshman utility player Kenna DeLancey (.652, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 13-0 pitching record) tied for third in POY voting.
Rogers ascension to the top of the softball mountain mirrored that of her team. A mere two years ago she was in middle school, and few outside of the state's southwest corner - or even within it - likely envisioned Hurricane winning a Class AAA state championship in the sport any time soon. The Redskins had never reached the State Tournament, and had never won as many as 20 games in a season until 2010.
They finished 14-13 in 2011. A year later and with Rogers headlining a group of five freshman starters, they claimed their first Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and finished 26-7.
The Redskins wrapped up a 33-6 season with their first state title in the sport by beating Wheeling Park on May 23 in Vienna. In doing so, they became the eighth school of the 10 currently in Region 4 to win a Class AAA state title.
Cabell Midland, Huntington, Logan, Point Pleasant, Spring Valley, St. Albans and Lincoln County have also won state titles out of the ultra-competitive region, which claims 19 big-school championships since the State Tournament began in 1981.
"It's been great just to be a part of this team," Rogers said. "I know that since we're all mostly sophomores, we can do big things in the these next two years."
Hurricane Coach Josh Caldwell said Rogers was the worthy beneficiary of a team-first concept that led to the program's overall success.
"That's always going to be the case when you have a good team. You're going to have players honored for their individual efforts to the team's success," Caldwell said. "Courtney obviously stood out and she's very deserving of the award.
"She's been a big piece to our success. Being one of two pitchers, she's been a big part. I've always said you've got to have good pitching to win. On offense she was huge piece because she was our best hitter this year in what was really a good-hitting lineup."
Rogers split pitching duties with sophomore Emily Davis, a second-team All-State selection who finished the year with an 11-3 record and batted .385. While Rogers had the highest batting average on the team, there were six starters who hit better than .400, including senior All-State catcher Linzie Reynolds and junior All-State outfielder Addie Fullen.
"Without this team, I probably wouldn't have been chosen," Rogers said. "They have been a huge factor in me playing my best."
Through two seasons Rogers has a career batting average of .477 with 17 homers, 28 doubles and 96 RBI. She has a 31-5 pitching record with 181 strikeouts.