The legacy Kayla Andrews leaves behind at Richland High School rivals that of any softball player that came before her.
In four years, the Bombers senior made four trips to state and helped her team earn three state trophies. She also finished her career as one of the top pitchers and hitters in program history.
And next year, when the Bombers take a swig of Gatorade from a brand new cooler and bottles, they can thank Andrews, recently named the Gatorade State Softball Player of the Year for Washington and on Monday the Tri-City Herald Player of the Year.
The Gatorade honor provided some extra refreshments and softball gear for her team as well as a pair of trophies — one for her, one for Richland High.
“Knowing there are so many other great players in the state, it’s really awesome to know they considered me,” Andrews said.
She is the second consecutive Tri-City Herald player of the year to earn Gatorade State Player of the Year honors. Connell’s Ashley Thompson, now a pitcher at BYU, won it last season.
Bombers coach Casey Emery will simply miss Andrews who he admits is one of the best players he’s ever coached at Richland.
“I would compare Kayla to Stacey (Ellingsworth), as both were big, strong power pitchers. Both had a great fastball, a curve and a rise ball being their primary strikeout pitch,” Emery said. “Kayla is one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached. She had a great batting average and on-base percentage with a high number of RBIs.”
Andrews, who will attend Mercer College in Atlanta, Ga., finished her high school career with a 37-6 record, a 1.97 ERA and 368 strikeouts. Her numbers are even more impressive at the plate.
The 6-foot right-hander batted .542 over her four years — including a .610 average this season — and clubbed 21 home runs as a Bomber.
The numbers are nice, Andrews said, but what she’ll take with her in the next phase of her career are the memories of her teammates and coaches.
“I’ve always been told the stuff you remember is outside the lines,” she said. “In the hotel rooms at state, and at (team) dinners. Everything happens there.”
It hasn’t quite hit Andrews that her high school career is over, but she won’t have much time to think about the end of her prep days. Her college career is only months away.
“My coach just emailed me about workouts we have to start doing for summer,” she said. “I’m excited (for college), but still a little nervous.”
The Herald coach of the year was a tight battle between Kamiakin’s Tim Bisson, Richland’s Casey Emery and Walla Walla’s Kate Keyes.
All represented the Mid-Columbia Conference well at state: Bisson’s Braves won their third consecutive Class 3A state title, while Keyes led the Blue Devils back to the state title game for the third time in four seasons.
Emery watched his team lose its opening game at state and then win its next five games to take third.
All deserved the nod, but Bisson got the edge based on difficulty points. No team above the 1A level has ever won more than two consecutive state titles, but the Braves made history.
“They set their goals pretty high at the beginning of the season, for obvious reasons,” Bisson said. “(Three in a row) is incredibly hard, but this team just battles.”
Elli Rassbach made her third appearance on the all-area first team, and Andrews is one of six other repeat first-teamers this year, including Richland teammates April Utecht and Abby Perryman. Kamiakin’s Melanie Oord and Carlie Richards, as well as Walla Walla’s Jordy Storm, all have been named before.
Rounding out the first team are Madison Martinez and Tori Zambrano of Othello; Paige Liikala and Stephanie Merwin of Richland; Emily Benson of Kamiakin and Whitney Weber of Chiawana.
P — Cassie Ramsey, jr., Kamiakin
P — Aaliyah Enriques, fr., Warden
P — Makenna Mathis, jr., Connell
C — Jacie McDaniels, sr., Walla Walla
1B — Abby Perryman, jr., Richland
2B — Hunter Schneitter, sr., Kamiakin
3B — Miranda Foraker, sr., Hanford
SS — Cylie Richards, sr., Kamiakin
OF — Kelsea Hinkley, soph., Richland
OF — Holly Fleshman, sr., Othello
OF — Annabel Perez, sr., Pasco
Util — Sarah Gilliam, sr., Southridge
Util — Savannah Egbert, jr., Connell
DH — Kadi Patterson, sr., Hanford
Best of the rest
Lexi Alaniz, jr., Hanford; Makayla Bishop, sr., Touchet; JesMelissa Creek, sr., Touchet; Claire Conley, sr., DeSales; Sarah Croskrey, sr., Liberty Christian; Diamond Franco, soph., Othello; Victoria Nunez, sr., Tri-Cities Prep; Annabel Perez, sr., Pasco; Kristen Quigley, soph., Othello; Rachel Roberts, sr., Columbia Burbank; Sofia Rodriguez, jr., Othello.