Return of the POY: Virginia's Kelly Heinz

The Gatorade State Softball Players of the Year selection process is in full swing, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for.

Name: Kelly Heinz

School: Lee-Davis (Mechanicsville, Va.)

Grade: Senior

Position: RHP

2011 W-L: 22-1

2011 IP: 151

2011 ERA: 0.09

2011 K: 292

2011 BA: .455

2011 HR: 5

2011 RBI: 26

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Virginia Softball Player of the Year. Led the Confederates (26-1) to the 2011 Group AAA state championship. 2010 and 2011 Central Region Pitcher of the Year. 2010 and 2011 First Team All-State selection. 2010 and 2011 Richmond Times Dispatch All-Metro Pitcher of the Year.

Academics: A average

College: Virginia Tech

Extracurricular activities: The 2009 Hanover County Citizenship Award winner, she has volunteered locally as a youth softball coach and as a peer math tutor.

Chris Pace, head coach of rival Hanover (Mechanicsville, Va.): “Kelly Heinz is one of the best softball players I’ve ever seen. As long as they have her, we have no shot at winning the district. She can throw it into a shoebox at 60 mph from 43 feet. That’s a special talent. She’s a tremendous pitcher and she’s a good hitter, too.”

Each Gatorade State Player of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys soccer underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11.

Allison Davis: Sophomore pitcher, Oakton (Vienna, Va.)

Claire Drew: Junior pitcher, Dominion (Sterling, Va.)

Jailyn Ford: Senior pitcher, Bath County (Hot Springs, Va.)

Macy Jones: Senior pitcher/outfielder, Briar Woods (Ashburn, Va.)

Micalah Sacre: Senior pitcher, Orange County (Orange, Va.)

Hailey Smith: Senior outfielder, Stonewall Jackson (Bull Run, Va.)

Maggie Tyler: Senior pitcher, Poquoson (Va.)

A dedicated ESPNHS POY team manages the Gatorade Player of the Year selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the program’s behalf. Candidates are judged on athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of ESPNHS recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.