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July 3, 2009

In a class by herself

(Continued)

The Division I offers already have begun to pour in for Winans, a strong-armed shortstop who also excels in field hockey and basketball. Wednesday marked the first day college coaches could begin formal talks with Winans about her future.

"I really want to be the one girl who goes big," said Winans, who has hit 34 home runs _ including 11 as a freshman _ and driven in 180 runs over five varsity seasons. "My friends and family know how good I am. I want to go somewhere very good, to a good program with good coaches."

One of Winans' best plays this season came not from her shortstop position _ where her arm strength and agility are unmatched in these parts _ or at the plate. Instead, it came as a baserunner.

She had just given Afton a one-run lead with a two-run double in what turned out to be a 9-4 victory over Deposit on June 6 that clinched the program's 15th straight Section Four Class D title.

Teammate and cousin Ashley Winans followed with a comebacker that deflected off pitcher Melissa Martin and directly to Lumberjacks second baseman Tara Mason, who easily threw out Ashley Winans at first.

Jessie Winans hustled to third on the play and, after slowing briefly to see how things were unfolding, sprinted toward home. Deposit first baseman Darsey Raymond made an accurate throw to catcher Chelsea Russell, but Winans slid through the batter's box and slapped the plate with her left hand while avoiding the tag to give Afton a 5-3 lead.

"It just speaks to her ability," Deposit coach Ed Swartwout said that day. "Anyone who has watched this game the past five or six years knows she's a phenomenal player. She could possibly be the best female high school athlete that I've ever seen. She's special."

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