Jaci Timko of Chartiers-Houston was the first Observer-Reporter Softball Player of the Year in 2005 and the hitting phenom, who set a WPIAL record for career home runs, earned the distinction three times (2005, 2006 and 2008).
Before Kiersten Conwell, who pitched Chartiers-Houston to the PIAA Class A championship last Friday, earned POY honors for the 2010 season, the only other players to garner the distinction are Trinity's Ashley Morran (2009) and Peters Township's Shaylee Ianno (2007).
None of the previous winners had much competition in the selection process. Each put together noteworthy seasons for good teams.
Selecting this year's winner was a little more difficult and the main competition came from one of Conwell's teammates.
Freshman Kayla Briggs enjoyed the type of season that few first-year players do. To be precise, Briggs reminded me a lot of Timko and she played a critical role in Chartiers-Houston winning the champions. Were it not for Briggs in the first two rounds of the PIAA playoffs, the Bucs don't win their first state title.
What put Conwell ahead of Briggs was her pitching performances in the state semifinals and state championship. Against premier lineups, Conwell surrendered one run and four hits.
That's what MVPs do.
In baseball, the selection of Joe Havrilak was much easier though Wash High senior J Jay Paskert merited consideration.
Havrilak's 1.143 slugging percentage says it all. And that's with teams trying to pitch around Havrilak, who was one of three players considered in 2009.
Last year, Canon-McMillan's Matt Pierpont won over Havrilak and Carmichaels' Joby Lapkowicz in a difficult decision to make.