Chicago Tribune All-State Honors Among Awards Received by Blue Ridge Softball Players

MAHOMET, Ill. -- The Lady Knights' junior varsity coach, Wayne Brown, followed his presentation of the JV awards with a note of praise for the man whom he will likely replace as varsity head coach next year.

"I would like to congratulate Myron Schroeder on his five years here," Brown said.

"He's my hero," Larry O'Neal shouted promptly.

"Yes, I am," Schroeder responded.

In his final season at Blue Ridge, Schroeder led the No. 9-ranked Lady Knights to a record of 28-6 and a regional championship game victory over Tri-Valley before losing the sectional championship game to Class 1A runner-up Danville Schlarman.

On Brown's introductory note, Schroeder presented numerous awards to his varsity players of 2011 at Monical's Pizza in Mahomet. Among those awards was one on which he received the news at noon on Wednesday.

Schroeder got a call from Bill Harrison, sports editor at the Chicago Tribune. Prior to the call, Jordan Wheeler, Jordyn Fones, Marcie Crawford and Melinda Wilson were nominated by the Tribune for the All-State Team.

Harrison informed Schroeder in the phone call that Wheeler was named a member of the Chicago Tribune's All-State First Team at second base.

"A great honor," Schoreder said. "For not only her, but the school. Very few downstate players receive All-State recognition from the Trib, as it includes all schools through [Class] 4A."

The following are awards she received from the area individually:

Piatt County Journal-Republican Player of the Year, Cornbelt WallStudz Player of the Month (April), WJBC Player of the Week.

Along with Fones, Wheeler was named a unanimous member of the Heart of Illinois Conference's All-Conference First Team, the News-Gazette's First Team, and nominated alongside Crawford and Wilson for Illinois Coaches Association's All-State team. The ICA All-State team will be announced on June 20.

Wilson and Jade O'Neal were also named to the HOIC All-Conference First Team. Crawford was named a member of the Second Team while Hannah Mattingly received an Honorable Mention.

Crawford, O'Neal and Wilson were given Special Mention honors by the News-Gazette.

As a team, Blue Ridge hit 40 home runs, the second-most of IHSA history. The following players received plaques as a reward for contributing to the accomplishment:

Wheeler (13 home runs), Wilson (8), Crawford (6), O'Neal (5), Kalyn Reynolds (6), Jamison Brandt (1), Mattingly (1).

Individual records set by Wheeler and Fones were recognized as well. Fones has the Lady Knights records for career hits (170) and batting average (.463) while Wheeler holds the home run (22*), win (63*) and strikeout (665*) records.

*- "so far," as Schroeder pointed out. Wheeler still has one year left at Blue Ridge.

It wasn't just players who were recognized at the awards ceremony. Aimee Thacker, who will also retire from coaching at Blue Ridge, received the Special Coaches Award.

"She did all the things I didn't want to do," Schroeder said. "[She was] the best assistant coach anyone could ever ask for."


MVP -- Jordyn Fones and Jordan Wheeler

"We are forced to present two Most Valuable Player Awards," Schroeder said.

Best Offensive Player -- Melinda Wilson

"[Melinda] had more clutch base hits and improved her contact percentage at the plate tremendously during the season," Schroeder said.

Best Defensive Player -- Marcie Crawford

"Anyone that has seen some of the catches and plays that Marcie turned in at the end of the season would not doubt for a moment why she is the team's Best Defensive Player of 2011," Schroeder said.

Lady Knight Award Winner -- Jade O'Neal

"Every team needs someone who guides the rest, someone that holds the team together even when things seem to be falling apart," Schroeder said. "This year's Lady Knight Award Winner is the same as last year for good reason."

Spirit Award -- Kalyn Reynolds

"I wish she had played all four years, but she had to go run track or something," Schroeder said. "[Kalyn] began playing first base, but then went to left field and did a super job for us out there."

Other Varsity Awards

Most Improved Player: Hannah Mattingly

Clutch Player Award: Jamison Brandt

Senior Award: Paige Weidner

Hustle Award: Liz Cordes

Best ERA: Jordan Wheeler (1.24)

Strikeouts: Jordan Wheeler (234)

Pitching Wins: Jordan Wheeler (22)

RBIs: Melinda Wilson (45)

Most Doubles: Marcie Crawford (20)

Most Triples: Melinda Wilson (4)

Most Home Runs: Jordan Wheeler (13)

On-Base Percentage: Jordan Wheeler (.552)

Most Sacrifices: Liz Cordes (7)

Best Batting Average: Jordyn Fones (508)

Most Hits: Jordyn Fones (60)

Most Clutch Game-Winning Hits: Hannah Mattingly (three-run homer vs. Dee-Mack), Melinda Wilson (key doubles in regional title game vs. Tri-Valley), Jordan Wheeler (home run in regional semifinal vs. GCMS)

Best Slugging Percentage: Jordan Wheeler (962)

Most Hit by Pitches: Jade O'Neal (5)

Ironic side note: O'Neal bruised Schroeder in the ribcage with a foul line drive on Senior Day. In the photo below (snapped at a different game), O'Neal is batting and Schroeder is in his white shirt on the third-base side.

Most Walks: Jordan Wheeler (27)

Best Defensive Plays: Marcie Crawford (vs. Tri-Valley), Melinda Wilson (vs. Rantoul, GCMS, Villa Grove)

Most Stolen Bases: Jordyn Fones (30)

Best Contact Percentage: Jordyn Fones (one strikeout)

Longest Home Run Award: Kalyn Reynolds (vs. Prairie Central)

JV Awards

MVP: Chandler Morrow

Most Improved Player: Jenna Cheek

Best Defensive Player: Morgan Delaney

Best Offensive Player: Katie Tobin

Team Spirit Award: Lisa Wallace

Special thanks to Karen Bradd for providing the pizza for the awards ceremony.

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