By Dean Russin
The Daily Star
Three of the area's best high school softball pitchers got even better Thursday.
Oneonta High's Brieanna Baker, Cooperstown's Nicole Cring and Afton's Cassidy Phillips earned First Team all-state honors in their respective classes to highlight a group of 10 area standouts recognized as the best players in the state by the New York State Sports Writers and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports.
Sophomore Baker struck out 257 batters in 138 innings pitched and finished with an earned run average of 1.37 for Oneonta High, which went 17-3 to finish the season as the seventh-ranked team in Class B.
"She had an incredible season," OHS coach Randy Brockway said of Baker, who also batted .396.
The Yellowjackets also had a Fourth Team all-stater in senior outfielder Shelby Cleaveland, who batted a team-best .485. Cleaveland also stole 12 bases and finished with a slugging percentage of .576 and an on-base percentage of .528.
"And each of them only had one error for the whole season," Brockway said of Baker and Cleaveland, who were East/Central Division all-conference selections in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference. "Shelby had a fielding percentage of .909 and BB was at .950. Those are some pretty incredible numbers."
Cring's First Team honor in Class C came after going 20-1 in the circle for Cooperstown, which went 21-1 and ranked eighth in the state at the end of the season. She finished with an ERA of .062 and 232 strikeouts in 146 innings. A senior, Cring also batted a team-high .451 with eight home runs, six triples, four doubles, 35 RBIs and 23 runs. Her percentages for on base and slugging were .536 and 1.014, respectively.
Cooperstown teammate Maggie Hall, a junior shortstop, made the Second Team in Class C. Her .435 batting average included a school-record 10 home runs, three triples, three doubles, 37 runs and 36 RBIs. She also was walked 19 times and was hit by a pitch six times.
"She was intentionally walked and thrown at a lot this season," Cooperstown coach Dave Bliss said of Hall, who had a slugging percentage of 1.000 and an on-base percentage of .579.
Cring and Hall also received First Team honors in Section Three Class C and Division III of the Center State Conference, with Cring earning the MVP in the latter.
State finalists Afton occupied five all-state spots, led by sophomore Phillips and junior outfielder Payton Cutting on the First Team in Class D.
Phillips went 18-2 with a .069 ERA and 167 strikeouts. She also batted .385 and drove in 15 runs. Cutting's team-best .458 batting average produced 17 RBIs, six doubles, seven triples and a home run for the Crimson Knights (22-2), who ended the season with the No. 2 state ranking in Class D.
Second Team honors in Class D went to Afton sophomore shortstop Ashley Rogalski, freshman third baseman Connor Decker and freshman catcher Bailey Sherman.
Rogalski batted .438 with 14 RBIs and five doubles, Decker hit .410 with 33 RBIs and seven doubles, and Sherman finished at .281 with 21 RBIs, two homers, three triples and six doubles.
Eighth-grade pitcher Catherine Johnson of Edmeston rounded out the area all-state picks as a fourth-teamer in Class D. Johnson went 18-3 in the circle with a 1.04 ERA and 242 strikeouts for the Panthers, who finished the season ranked 17th in the state with a 19-3 record. Johnson also batted .420 with 26 RBIs, 19 runs and six doubles.
Dean Russin can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.