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July 3, 2009

In a class by herself

Dropping jaws with stellar plays in the field or long home runs has been commonplace for Jessie Winans since joining Afton's softball team as a seventh-grader.

This past season, she even did it to herself.

"Oh yeah, I was definitely surprised," junior shortstop Winans said of the numbers she put up this season, including a .533 batting average, 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. "I don't like knowing my batting average, but I read the paper late in the season and my mouth just dropped. I didn't know (my numbers) were that high."

Suffice to say, Winans had the best of both worlds in 2009.

Not only did she have another incredible season as an individual, but Afton _ losers in each of the last four Class D state title games _ won its first state championship since 2002.

On the final day of the 2008 softball season, Winans hit two home runs for the Crimson Knights, who fell, 4-2, to Chapel Field in eight innings in the Class D state final.

"(The home runs) made me happy," she said after the 2008 loss to Chapel Field, "but I'd give up both of those home runs to win this championship."

Three weeks ago, Winans & Co. finally earned the school's elusive seventh state championship. Winans didn't have to give up her power, though. Her fifth-inning home run, a shot estimated at 240 feet, gave the Crimson Knights a six-run lead en route to a 7-4 victory over Batavia Notre Dame in the Class D final June 13 at Waterloo High.

"I'm a state champion and I don't think that feeling ever goes away," Winans said. "It's something nice to brag about. It's an amazing feeling and it won't go away."

Winans' homer in the state final marked her 13th of the season.

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