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: Heather Stearns
School: Hebron (Carrollton, Texas)
Athletic achievement: Stearns posted an 18-9 record on the mound and a 1.29 ERA, leading the Hawks (28-11-1) to the Class 5A, Region 1 final this past season. She struck out 313 batters and walked 40 in 190 innings-pitched. At the plate, Stearns batted .415 with 15 home runs, 41 RBI and a .972 slugging percentage. She hit four home runs in a 13-4 win over Pilot Point (Texas) on March 3, becoming the first softball player from Texas to hit more than three homers in a game.
Academic excellence: Stearns has maintained a 3.21 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally at a homeless shelter and food bank and has taught Sunday School at her church.
“Heather has not only great velocity, but she has great movement and a great selection of pitches,” said Michelle Mayfield, head coach of rival Legacy (Mansfield, Texas). “Heather was also huge in the playoffs for Hebron, definitely turning up her intensity and game several notches.”
THE FUTURE: Stearns has signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball on scholarship at Baylor University this fall.