A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For her 48 fellow Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Kelly Young
School: Madison Central (Madison, Miss.)
Athletic achievement: Young led the Jaguars to a 29-3 record and a third consecutive Class 6A state championship this season. A returning Class 6A First Team All-State selection as named by The Clarion-Ledger, she posted a 25-2 record with a 0.29 ERA and 338 strikeouts against 40 walks in 168 innings pitched. Young batted .305 with three home runs and 19 RBI, producing a .463 slugging percentage and .377 on-base percentage. In eight Class 6A state tournament games, she finished 8-0 in the circle with a 0.25 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched.
Academic excellence: Young has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of the National Beta Club and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, she has volunteered locally as a peer tutor and on behalf of MAADCAP to benefit the needy. Young has also donated her time in association with Madison Central’s softball squad as an instructor for youth players and as part of fundraising efforts to benefit the needy in Rwanda.
“First, I’m glad she’s graduating,” said Mike Armstrong, head coach at rival Northwest Rankin (Flowood, Miss.). “She’s one of the humblest athletes you’re ever going to see. She’s just a great kid. It’s never about herself. She’s a very good pitcher. We have good batters, and we tried to outthink her, but she was smarter than we were. In 2009, when we won the state championship, she beat us as a ninth-grader. She was that good at that age and definitely improved every year. She batted very well this year, too.”
THE FUTURE: Young has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at the University of Arkansas this fall.