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Coeburn’s Light shines brightest in SW Va. softball

Kevin Mays • Apr 12, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Hannah Light Cress learned at an early age that hard work has its rewards, and she continues to work hard in everything she does.

Cress was the top vote-getter in an informal, weeklong social media poll asking fans to select the top all-time high school softball players in far Southwest Virginia.

“That is such a huge honor,” Cress said upon hearing the results. “It’s just humbling.

“I always tried to work hard and it’s just an honor that other people recognized that.”

Cress, a 2010 Coeburn graduate, was a dominating force on the mound for the Lady Blue Knights and the VHSL record book shows it.

Over her high school career, she threw eight perfect games, the second most in state history and No. 1 in Group A. Two of those perfect games came during her junior year when she threw three consecutive no-hitters.

Cress finished the 2009 season with 15 total shutouts, also second best in state history.

While at Coeburn, she accumulated 46 shutouts and 1,092 strikeouts — including fanning 25 batters in one game, a 2-1 loss to Holston in the 2010 state semifinals.

“That’s probably my biggest memory of my high school career,” Cress said.

That game went 18 innings over two days at Coeburn. The first day saw 17 innings played before darkness forced the game to be suspended. Holston came back the next day and scored in the top of the 18th to take the win.

“I can still remember every pitch in that game,” Cress said.

She went on to a stellar career at King, earning Conference Carolinas pitcher of the year two years in a row. She amassed a school-record 71 wins, including throwing a no-hitter against Emory & Henry in 2012.

Cress holds the King record for the lowest ERA (1.81) and most strikeouts (651). She is tops in the school record book in most innings pitched (776 2/3), shutouts (21) and complete games (93).

Cress became a head coach last year. After working as a pitching coach at Wise Central for three years, she took over at John Battle last season and led the Lady Trojans to a 19-4 record, the Mountain 7 District regular- season and district tournament championships and berth in the Region 2D semifinals.

THE TEAM

Here are the other top vote-getters in the social media poll:

• MAC OSBORNE, Richlands — Osborne led the Lady Tornado to the VHSL Class 2 championship as a senior last season, the team’s third straight appearance in the state title game. The Virginia Tech signee was the VHSL Class 2 player of the year in 2019 and an all-state selection in back-to-back years. Osborne went 59-9 with 782 strikeouts over three seasons.

• KAYLEE JONES, Eastside — The 2017 graduate is tops in the Group A record book for career home runs (31) as well as for most homers in a season (13). Jones, now a junior at Virginia-Wise, was in the top 15 in five NCAA Division II categories when the season came to a premature end. She was second nationally in slugging percentage (1.046), third in home runs (9), third in total bases (68), eighth in doubles (10) and 15th in on-base percentage (.571).

• RACHEL PORCHIE, Wise Central — A two-time player of the year in the Mountain 7 District, Porchie was a Class 2 all-state pick in 2017, her senior year. She was an all-state second-teamer in 2016. Before her junior season at NCAA DIII Mary Washington was shut down after five games, the infielder hit .286 with a home run and five RBIs. During her first two seasons at Mary Washington, Porchie had seven home runs and 54 RBIs.

• LOGAN VIERS, Abingdon — Viers dominated as a pitcher and hitter for the Lady Falcons. She rapped out a state-record 214 career hits and totaled 57 in one season, second best in state history. Viers holds state records for most career triples (23) and longest hitting streak (60 games). A three-time all-state, all-region and all-district pick, she twice was the Southwest District and region pitcher of the year. She played collegiate softball at Kennesaw State.

• MORGAN LOWE, Holston — Lowe led the Lady Cavaliers to the state championship game in three consecutive years. In 2009, her freshman year, she averaged 13.2 strikeouts per game, and in 2012 she recorded 22 wins. Lowe played college ball at King where she fared better as a hitter than a pitcher, compiling a career batting average of .243 with six home runs and 33 RBIs.

• BRITNEY LAWSON SALYER, Rye Cove — Lawson was a standout athlete in two sports in high school and college. The 2004 Rye Cove graduate flew under the radar in high school but played well enough at the college level to become a UVA Wise Hall of Famer. She holds 11 records at UVA Wise, including career home runs (31) and triples (23) and season home runs (11) and triples (7). She totaled 226 hits and 127 RBIs with the Cavs.

• MEGAN HONAKER, Holston — The speedy catcher holds the Group A record for stolen bases in a career with 130. She stole 37 bases in 2010, including swiping five in two games that year — against Galax and against George Wythe. Honaker holds the Group A records for most runs scored in a career (164) and in a season (50 in 2012).

• KELSEY WEDDLE, Patrick Henry — Weddle, the 2011 Region C player of the year in softball, also won the state championship in the 300 hurdles. After high school she went to Walters State where she constructed a 39-9 record and led her team to the 2013 NJCAA World Series. She recorded 243 strikeouts over two years.

• NICOLE POORE, Patrick Henry — Currently an assistant softball coach and head volleyball coach at Northwood as well as assistant softball coach at Emory & Henry, Poore helped Patrick Henry reach the state championship game her junior year after recovering from injuries from a car accident. The two-time Region C player of the year went on to a strong collegiate career at UVA Wise. Before graduating in 2005, she pitched the Cavaliers to three Appalachian Athletic Conference championships and the school’s first Region XII title.

• KENDALL RAINEY, Patrick Henry — The speedy outfielder excelled both in high school and college. Rainey, now the athletic director at UVA Wise, powered Patrick Henry to three consecutive Hogoheegee District championships, four straight district tournament titles, two Region C championships and a state runner-up trophy. At UVA Wise, where she played both softball and volleyball, Rainey led the Cavs to three Appalachian Athletic Conference titles and the NAIA Region XII title in 2005. Rainey was the Region XII player of the year in 2005.

• TIFFANY COLE, J.I. Burton — Cole was Burton’s ace for four seasons, including 2016 when she was the Cumberland District pitcher of the year. The three-time all-district selection led the Lady Raiders to three district titles in four years. The Emory & Henry senior, who had her season end prematurely, finished her collegiate career with a 34-18 record, one save and a 2.62 ERA. She registered 160 strikeouts over 342 innings pitched.

OTHER NOTABLES

Others receiving significant numbers of votes were Whitney Davis, Tazewell; Whitney Sanders, Tazewell; Sarah Cordill, Richlands; Alana Thomas, Virginia High; Crystal Armes, Richlands; Christie Maupin, Graham; Ashley Neese, Virginia High; Stacy Wright, Holston; Kate Dowe, Virginia High; Brianna Bates, J.J. Kelly; Lindsay Lawson, Coeburn; and Lindsey Dean, Coeburn.

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