The 2011-2012 school year was a successful one for high school female athletes in Lawrence County.
Fifteen set themselves apart from the rest, but only one will conquer the field when the New Castle News announces its Female Athlete of the Year on Wednesday.
Individuals who participate in one sport qualify, but special consideration is given to multi-sport athletes.
Following, in alphabetical order, are the candidates:
Three-sport standout Shelby Brown (golf, basketball, softball) made a name for herself as a junior at Mohawk.
Brown led the Lady Warriors’ basketball team by averaging 11.5 points per game. She also drained 31 3-pointers and led all of Lawrence County in free-throw percentage (77.8). She was named to the WPIAL Section 2-AA first team. The 5-foot-7 point guard played an integral role in guiding Mohawk to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, where it won a preliminary-round game before losing to Bishop Canevin.
Brown was equally productive in softball, where she led the team in batting average (.400), runs (25) and triples (6). She also tied for the team lead in doubles (6) and didn’t strike out once in 80 at-bats. Brown, who earned all-star honors, was a catalyst in the Lady Warriors’ run to the postseason. They finished the season 14-8 and defeated Burgettstown in the first round before falling to eventual WPIAL champion Deer Lakes in the quarterfinals.
Burns, a two-sport athlete, was one of most athletic females in Lawrence County.
The senior leaves Wilmington as one of the elite leapers in the program’s rich history. She holds the school record in the triple jump, set last year with a leap of 38-1. This season, Burns, who also was one of the team’s top sprinters in the 100-meter race, placed first in the triple jump at the Union Invitational and was fourth in the long jump. At the Mercer Invitational, she finished first in the triple jump and second in the long jump. Burns really turned it on toward the end of the season, taking first in the triple jump at the District 10 Championships and second in the long jump, setting a personal best with a leap of 17-10. Those marks qualified her for the PIAA Championships, where she finished seventh in the triple jump and 10th in the long jump.
She was no slouch at soccer either. She played a key role in leading Wilmington to its second straight District 10 championship. They defeated Iroquois, 3-2, in the title game before falling to Shady Side Academy, 1-0, in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
A two-sport star from Laurel, Deinert put together a solid senior campaign.
As a first baseman for the Lady Spartans, Deinert led the team and was fifth in Lawrence County in batting average (.456). She also paced Laurel in RBIs (13) and singles (21). She tied for second in doubles (4) and on-base percentage (.500) and only committed one error at first base.
The 6-foot senior stood out in basketball as well. She was the team’s leading rebounder and ranked third in scoring at 8.2 points per game.
Elliott is a budding star in the area and continued to show why as a sophomore in three different sports.
She was third in the county in scoring in basketball, averaging 15.8 points per game. The 5-9 Elliott scored a career-high 35 points in the Lady Greyhounds’ regular season finale against Reynolds. She also ranked sixth in the county with a 73.2 free-throw percentage and led Wilmington with 14 3-pointers. She was the offensive centerpiece for the Lady Greyhounds as they reached the District 10 playoffs for the third straight year.
In softball, Elliott hit .362 and drove in 14 runs for the playoff-bound Lady Greyhounds. The third baseman also scored 18 runs and was second on the team with three triples.
Elliott also played soccer for the Lady Greyhounds, who won the District 10 championship for the second consecutive season.
Furst, a senior, saved her best for last.
She finished off a dazzling softball career at Neshannock by leading the Lady Lancers to the first state title in school history. Furst pitched every regular and post season game but one for Neshannock over the last four years. She finished her senior season with a 23-1 record, a 1.43 earned run average, 106 strikeouts and 37 walks in 151 innings pitched. She also belted a team-high four home runs, tied for the lead in RBIs (25) and doubles (4) and batted .349.
She was really on her game in the playoffs, batting .435 with a home run and five RBIs. She also recorded a 6-1 record, 1.47 ERA, 24 strikeouts and earned the win in the Lady Lancers’ 4-3 victory over Warrior Run in the PIAA Class AA title game.
Giancola was another three-sport athlete for Mohawk, competing in volleyball, basketball and softball.
The junior enjoyed a career year in basketball, where the sharp-shooting guard led Mohawk and was second in Lawrence County with 41 3-pointers. She was the third-leading scorer for the playoff-bound Lady Warriors, who had a bounce-back season after struggling in 2010-11. They finished the year 18-6 and won a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round game over Washington. Mohawk eventually dropped a quarterfinal contest to WPIAL finalist Bishop-Canevin.
Giancola also started at second base for the Lady Warriors’ softball team. She was third on the team in RBIs with 16 and was especially stout on defense. Giancola helped Mohawk reach the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, where the Lady Warriors beat Burgettstown, 5-2, in the first round before falling to eventual WPIAL-champion Deer Lakes, 6-5.
Giancola played outside hitter on the volleyball team. She led the team in kills and one of the leaders in serving aces.
Hiers was one of the premier three-sport athletes in Lawrence County.
A clean-up hitter for the Lady Greyhounds’ softball team, Hiers earned the county’s “triple crown” award. The senior led the area in hitting (a .539 average), RBIs (40) and home runs (8). Her batting average was 57 points higher than second place. And the next closest in home runs had four. She didn’t stop there. Hiers also paced the county in runs (42) and hits (42), and she was second in stolen bases (19), third in triples (4) and fourth in doubles (7). She was a key reason the Lady Greyhounds reached the District 10 title game for the second straight season and advanced to the PIAA playoffs as well.
Hiers also played an integral role in Wilmington claiming its second-straight District 10 soccer title. She scored the tying goal in the championship game, a 3-2 win over Iroquois.
Hiers was a guard on Wilmington’s basketball team and the Lady Greyhounds’ second-leading scorer, averaging 8.6 points per game. As the lone senior for Wilmington, she provided valuable leadership qualities for a team that reached the District 10 playoffs for the third consecutive year.
King, a two-sport senior, continued to add to the legacy of great track and field stars at Wilmington.
King ran several events for the Lady Greyhounds over the years, but she really shined in the 100-meter dash and the long jump. She broke her own school record this year in the long jump with a leap of 18-1⁄2. She finished first in the long jump at the Union Invitational and was second in the 100. King also placed first in the long jump at the Mercer Invitational and was third at the Baldwin Invitational. She really turned it on at the District 10 Championship, taking first and setting the school record in the long jump. King then placed third at the state meet, the highest mark of any Lawrence County female.
King also was No. 3 singles player on the Lady Greyhounds’ tennis team. She owned an 8-6 record and was a three-year letterman for Wilmington.
Manickas put together a brilliant sophomore season for the Lady Lancers in cross country and track and field.
During cross country, she was the Tri-County Meet champion and also placed third at the Hornet Harrier Invitational, fourth at the Slippery Rock Invitational and second at the Midwestern Athletic Conference meet. She then finished third at the WPIAL cross country meet in October, advancing her to the PIAA Championships, where she was 41st out of 285 runners.
In track, Manickas ran the 3200-meter run and placed first at the Union Invitational and the MAC meet in that event. She ran the 1600 at the Tri-County Meet and won that and the 3200 for the second straight year. She also finished fourth at the WPIAL meet, qualifying her for the PIAA championships. She placed 13th at the state meet, running the 3200 in a time of 11:49.60.
McCowin was a three-sport standout for Ellwood City Lincoln. The junior participated in volleyball, basketball and track and field.
McCowin made her biggest impact in track and field. She placed third in the 100 hurdles at the Butler Invitational and was fourth in the same event at the Midwestern Athletic Conference meet. McCowin’s best times came at the end of the season. She became the only Lawrence County athlete to qualify for the PIAA Championships in three different events (not including relays) when she wowed the field at the WPIAL Class AA Championships, placing third in the 100 hurdles, fourth in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the high jump. She then ran one of her fastest times of the year at the state meet, earning a medal by placing sixth in the 100 hurdles.
A starter on the Lady Wolverines volleyball team, she was a WPIAL Section 1-AA second-team selection. The 5-10 McCowin also played forward for Ellwood City’s basketball team, averaging 5.4 points as the team’s third-leading scorer.
Partridge finished off a phenomenal career at Union this year.
The senior starred in basketball and softball. She was dominant in basketball, scoring 1,283 career points (second in school history to Karlyn Busby’s 1,746). She averaged 12.7 points per game as a senior — fifth best in Lawrence County — and sank 35 3-pointers, which also ranked fifth in the county. She helped lead the program’s resurgence after a few down seasons. The Lady Scots were 13-9 this past season and narrowly missed out on the playoffs. They finished fourth in Section 1-A but lost a tiebreaker to Aliquippa. She tore a ligament in her knee in the second to last game of the year, but that didn’t stop her from playing softball.
The 5-7 Partridge was a force in softball as well. She led the Lady Scots and was fourth in the county in batting average (.463) and also paced Union with 35 RBIs and four home runs, which were both second in the county. She added team highs in hits (25) and on-base percentage (.561) and tied for the team lead in triples (2). Union again just missed a spot in the playoffs, finishing a game behind Rochester for third place in Section 5-A.
Perrotta enjoyed a breakout season for the Lady ’Canes basketball and softball teams.
The junior was already an established player in both sports, but she took her play to another level this year. She was the fourth leading scorer on a very deep and talented New Castle basketball team. She led the Lady ’Canes and was third in Lawrence County with 38 3-pointers. She scored a career-high 15 points in a 71-68 victory over Seneca Valley and played an instrumental role in New Castle’s run to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Perrotta was one of the best center fielders in the area and also batted .415, the second-highest mark on the team. She tied for the team high in doubles with four and tied for second in stolen bases with 10. She made several spectacular plays on defense as she used her quickness to cover ground in the outfield. The No. 3 hitter, Perrotta helped spark the Lady ’Canes run to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, where they won the first postseason game in school history, a 9-4 decision over Kittanning.
One of the all-time great basketball players in New Castle history had another stellar season for the Lady ’Canes.
Waters finished as the leading scorer in Lawrence County, averaging 25.5 points per game for New Castle. Before a knee injury ended her season prematurely, she was leading the Lady ’Canes in rebounding, steals and was one of the team’s best defenders. She also was sixth in the county in 3-pointers (31) and free-throw percentage (73.2). She scored 36 points in New Castle’s season opener and followed it up with 41 the very next night. Even though her last two seasons ended early because of knee injuries, she still finished with 1,243 career points (fifth all-time in school history). New Castle went 2-6 without her in the lineup during the final eight games, but the Lady ’Canes made the playoffs and edged Mount Pleasant in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs before falling to Blackhawk in the quarterfinals. Waters was part of two WPIAL title teams as a freshman and sophomore.
One of the all-time greats at Shenango High, Watson went out on a high note with the Lady Wildcats.
She participated in three sports — volleyball, track and field and softball. She was a starter on Shenango’s volleyball team, which is a perennial powerhouse over the past few years and made the playoffs for the second straight year in 2012. Her main highlights came in softball and track and field, though.
Watson, who competed in shot put and discus, placed first in shot put at the Union Invitational and third in the discus. She won both events at the Midwestern Athletic Conference meet and then accomplished the same feat at the WPIAL Class AA Championships. She went on to place ninth in the shot put and 11th in the discus at the PIAA Championships.
Her softball résumé is equally impressive. She posted a .438 batting average, second best on the team, and drove in a team-high 29 RBIs. She was a dominant pitcher as well. She held a 2.52 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 125 innings. The Lady Wildcats tied for first place in WPIAL Section 5-A with an 11-1 record and advanced to the WPIAL Class A playoffs for the second straight year.
Yarletts, a senior, starred in basketball and baseball at Mohawk.
She enjoyed a breakout season in basketball, where she nearly doubled her scoring output from her junior year, averaging 10 points per game. The 5-5 guard also was one of the team’s top defenders and almost always covered the opposing team’s best player. Yarletts helped lead the Lady Warriors to an 18-6 record and a playoff berth. They defeated Washington in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round game before falling to Bishop Canevin in the first round.
In softball, she led Mohawk in RBIs (18), walks (15), tied for the team lead in home runs (1) and steals (5) and was second in runs with 22. The catcher also didn’t commit an error. The Lady Warriors finished the season with a 14-8 record and earned a bid to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. They defeated Burgettstown in the first round before falling to eventual WPIAL champion Deer Lakes, 6-5, in the quarterfinals.