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The Washington Daily News’ All-Area Softball Team

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
The softball fields of Beaufort and Martin counties were littered with talent this spring.
Seven area softball teams advanced to the state playoffs in 2008, with Northside, Southside, Washington, and Jamesville all advancing to at least the third round, to make our area one of the most competitive softball regions in the state.
There were eight teams in the areathat won at least 10 games, an impressive feat considering there are just 11 area softball teams.
With team success comes strong individual performances.
No position was stronger than pitcher. Washington pitcher Charity Watson and Bear Grass flame-thrower Lauren Ward have already swept the Washington Daily News’ two top player awards. Watson was named Pitcher of the Year with an eye-popping 0.20 ERA, a record of 15-5 and 271 strikeouts, and Ward took home the Daily News’ Offensive Player of the Year award with a .585 batting average - she also had a record of 6-4 and 34 strikeouts.
But the talent in the circle doesn’t end with those two. Five other area pitchers posted ERA’s of under 1.50, and four of them recorded at least one strike out per inning.
Other highly contested positions on this year’s team were catcher and shortstop.
Four area catchers batted .280 or better and had at least 12 RBIs, while the shortstop position had four candidates with averages of .300 or better.
The abundance of talent that surfaced on area diamonds, made this year’s Washington Daily News’ softball selections more difficult than ever.
However, the results are in, and here are 38 other players to join Watson and Ward as the area’s 40 best high school softball players.
WDN First-Team
Pitchers
Gabby Cilluffo, Southside
Cilluffo was the catalyst behind Southside’s most successful season ever. The Seahawks’ senior ace posted a 19-5 record, including an 11-1 mark in Atlantic Conference play to lead Southside to its first conference championship. Cilluffo also had an impressive 1.16 ERA (0.75 ERA against conference foes) and struck out 200 batters. During one 10-game stretch this season, the Seahawks’ right-hander allowed just one run and 11 of her 19 victories were by shutout. She also proved to be a big-game pitcher, allowing just one run in three playoff games. Offensively, Cilluffo did plenty of damage as well, posting a .261 batting average and a .463 on-base percentage.
Amanda Beirne, Northside
Like Cilluffo, Beirne kept Atlantic/Albemarle Conference opponents on their toes all season long. It was tough for her opponents to figure her out, with an above-average fastball and a nasty slider. The Panthers’ star was second in the area with an ERA of 0.37 and also recorded 196 strikeouts. Beirne was the driving force behind the Panthers’ seventh place finish in the NCHSAA Class 1-A rankings.
She was an offensive standout as well, batting .310 with 18 RBIs and five runs scored.
Morgan Miller, Williamston
One of three All-Conference pitchers from the Atlantic Conference to make the Daily News’ All-Area First-Team, Miller led Williamston to a 15-8 record and a second-place finish in the Atlantic Conference. Miller posted a 9-6 record this season and threw 15 complete games for the Lady Tigers. In 105 innings of work, the senior star allowed just 48 hits and had an ERA of 0.97. She also had an impressive 5-to-1 strike out to walk ratio.
Catcher
Marissa Fuctio, Washington
Fucito was far and away the offensive star of the Pam Pack. The senior catcher, who will play at Pitt Community College next season, had a team-best batting average of .329 and led the Pam Pack in hits, runs scored, RBIs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging-percentage. She also served as battery-mate to the best pitcher in the area. According to coach David Daniel, Fucito could play anywhere on the field and be successful. The four-year starter for the Pam Pack spent most of her career at third base before moving to full-time catcher this season, where she didn’t commit an error.
First base
Jessica Vander Weit, Terra Ceia
The Christian School senior had a monster year in 2008, excelling on both sides of the ball. Vander Weit led the Knights (10-11, 7th in the final NCISAA rankings) with .458 batting average and an on-base percentage of .500. She also had a team-high eight extra base hits after ripping seven doubles and one triple in 59 at-bats. Defensively, the Knights’ first baseman had .975 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 121 opportunities this year. She was a TIC All-Conference selection and Terra Ceia’s Team MVP.
Second base
Cassie Harrell, Williamston
One of only two sophomore’s on the WDN first-team, Harrell is a star in the making at Williamston. This season, the second baseman lit up the Atlantic Conference with a team-leading .359 average and an on-base percentage of .500. The Lady Tigers lead off hitter scored nine times this season and had seven RBIs. In 68 plate appearances, Harrell only stuck out once. Paired with fellow-sophomore Heather Jackson in the middle of the Tigers’ infield, Williamston’s future looks bright for at least the next two years.
Third base
Dee Dee Stanley, Southside
Stanley is a small player who constantly came up big in the Seahawks’ run to the conference championship. The junior third baseman led Southside with a .362 batting average and was third on the team in on-base percentage with a .488. Defensively, the All-Conference selection was fearless, constantly charging toward the plate with reckless abandon to field bunts. She was easily the best infielder on the team, making diving stop after diving stop.
Shortstop
Amanda Daw, Northside
It’s easy to spot Daw at a Northside game — she’s the one with the dirt all over her uniform early in the game. That’s because she believes anything within 20-feet of her is her ball, and she goes all-out after it, typically making the play. She was easily the most impressive middle-infielder this season, making sliding stops, bare-handed throws, and showing off her strong arm. Offensively, Daw was one of the toughest outs in the Atlantic Conference, leading the Panthers with a .325 batting average, 14 RBIs and 18 runs scored. The Northside sophomore also had an on-base percentage of .357.
Outfielder
Lauren Rodriguez, Northside
You’d be hard pressed to find a better outfielder than Rodriguez. Her greatest moment this season came in the Panthers’ third round state playoff game against Manteo, when the senior came sliding across her belly full speed to make a grab in a tie ball game. That play sums up Rodriguez. All heart, all hustle. When she’s not making spectacular grabs in the field, Rodriguez was showcasing her improved skills at the plate. She batted a career-best .292 this season, and came up with nine RBI’s and 11 runs scored.
Outfielder
Sydney Harding, Southside
Harding was one of the Seahawks’ best all-around players this season. The two-year starter was stellar in center field this season, committing only one error in 24 starts. Offensively, Harding used her speed to get on base and wreak havoc. She batted .328 this season
Outfielder
Chelsi Chandler, Southside
Chandler had a monster year for the Seahawks, both offensively and defensively. Alongside Harding and right fielder Shakeira Lomax, Southside easily had the best outfield in the area. Besides her role as the Seahawks’ left fielder, the three-year starter also served as the team’s lead off hitter where she did a bang up job. The All-Conference star, had a .338 batting average, but even more impressive was her .546 on-base percentage, that allowed her to score nearly 20 times in 24 games.
Utility Player
Elizabeth Ange, Jamesville
Ange was one of the main reasons for the Bullets’ Tideland Athletic Conference Championship in 2008. The part-time pitcher, part-time third baseman sported the second best batting average in the entire area, hitting .490 this season. She also drove in 18 runs and scored 17 times, while getting on-base better than 60 percent of the time. On the mound, she was also impressive, compiling a 10-3 record and an ERA of 1.20.
2nd team
P - Paige Roberson, Terra Ceia
P - Brinkley Johnson, Pungo
P - Harris Shepherd, Williamston
C - Resla Penn, Southside
1B - Kayla Spain, Washington
2B - Kristi Wood, Washington
3B - Tiffany Frye, Jamesville
SS - Lauren Webb, Bear Grass
OF - Natara Peele, Williamston
OF - Shakeira Lomax, Southside
OF - Ashley Rogers, Bear Grass
Util. - Casey Alligood, Northside
Honorable Mention
Bear Grass
Lauren Mizelle
Northside
Tiffany Jackson
Heather Ussery
Whitney Lewis
Pungo
Tess Smithwick
Allison Armstrong
Southside
Amanda Harding
Kellie Hardison
Terra Ceia
Ashley Grisson
Jill Van Essendelft
Washington
Lilly Ann Arnold
Lauren Allen
Williamston
Heather Jackson
Presley Roberson