Argue whether cheerleading is a sport all you want. Don’t argue whether cheerleaders are athletes.
Look no further than the Class AAA all-state softball captain for cross-referenced evidence to further confirm their status.
“Cheerleading is something I’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been playing softball, and believe me, it’s hard to do both because they both require year-round work,” said Logan senior pitcher/infielder Morgan Aguirre, who was chosen as the Class AAA all-state captain by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association after hitting .449 with five home runs, 15 doubles and 31 RBIs while amassing a 15-5 record with 158 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA.
Led by Aguirre, the Wildcats (28-7) won the Region 3 championship for the fourth consecutive year and finished third in the state tournament for the second straight season. Logan has the longest active streak of consecutive Class AAA state, under coach Randy Robinette.
Aguirre did not win a state softball championship. She was, however, a member of Logan’s title-winning cheer squad of 2009. She said that she would not have gained the level of success she has reached on the diamond if not for her work with cheerleading.
“I would not be half the softball player I am if I didn’t spend part of the summer and all of the fall and winter lifting people,” she said. “If you look at any picture of me pitching, my muscles look fake. That’s from cheerleading.”
Aguirre, her class valedictorian at Logan, took one of three utility spots. Each of the other three teams that reached the state tournament landed their ace pitcher on the all-state list as well.
Junior Amy Rotriga (17-1, 182 strikeouts, 1.95 ERA) of state champion John Marshall, senior Cece Bailey (21 wins, 194 K’s, 1.33 ERA) of runner-up Parkersburg South and Robert C. Byrd junior Mecca Henderson (22-13, 225 K’s) - who pitched all but five innings for the Eagles in 2012 - take three of the five pitcher spots. Juniors Kaity Hanna of Cabell Midland (23-4, 157 K’s, 1.29 ERA) and Alli Burdette of South Charleston (12-8, 256 K’s, 0.78 ERA) are the two other pitchers.
St. Albans junior pitcher Ali Haynes, who made the all-state team as a utility player in 2011, was named captain of the second team as a pitcher. Haynes was 22-5 with 117 strikeouts and a 1.27 ERA. It marked the second consecutive year a St. Albans player was the second-team captain. Senior shortstop Rachel Hickman (.367, .560 on-base percentage, two home runs, 38 steals) was named as a first-team infielder in 2012 after being the second-team captain a year ago.
Rotriga was one of three John Marshall players named to the first team. Infielder Kylie Howard (.504, five home runs, 13 doubles, eight triples, 49 RBIs) and senior utility player Megan Garcia (.444, three home runs, 12 doubles, 47 RBIs) were the others.
Cabell Midland also had three selections. Junior first baseman Morgan Kelley (.367, six home runs, 50 RBIs) and senior outfielder Sydney Kaplan (.458, two home runs, 38 RBIs) joined Hanna on the list.
Lincoln County, which won the 2011 state title before being eliminated in regional play in 2012, landed two players on the list in senior shortstop Alyssa Cook (.500, four home runs, 49 RBIs), who was named as an infielder, and senior center fielder Aleks Lawson. Lawson, who was joined by Kaplan and repeat selection Shannon Lyons of Jefferson in the outfield, hit .460 with 16 doubles.
Logan senior catcher Katie Chryssofos (.376, 10 homers, 38 RBIs) was a repeat selection, and was joined at the position by Parkersburg South catcher Gemma Trippett (.379, 11 home runs, 40 RBIs).
Nicholas County senior Joni Tyree (.581 batting average) was a repeat selection in the infield, and Robert C. Byrd junior Alicia Noble - who began the season as a first baseman but due to team injuries played the second half of the year at shortstop and third base — was named as a utility player after hitting .478 with three homers and 47 RBIs.
Named to the second team from Logan was senior pitcher Taylor Norman.
Logan senior first baseman Lara Sedlock was named special honorable mention.