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Queen of the diamond
Union/Cove’s Sturm named 2A/1A softball player of the year by coaches
Dani Sturm just had a senior season to remember. And she was rewarded for her efforts.
The Union/Cove standout was named the 2A/1A state softball player of the year after helping lead the Lady Cats to a state title.
“It’s an exciting feeling,” Sturm said. “I was surprised. I was going against one of the top pitchers in the state (Heppner’s Bailey Bennett).”
Sturm went 21-1 in the circle with 123 strikeouts. She also batted .492 with six home runs and 18 stolen bases.
She admitted that the award was more of a testament of what her team accomplished this year.
“The team helped me a lot,” Sturm said.
Sturm also earned Special District 6 player of the year honors. But the hard-throwing right-hander couldn’t decide which award was more important to her.
“Both are,” she said.
“My goal was to make it to the state championship game. I didn’t really think about the player of the year because I didn’t want to single myself out.”
Union/Cove head coach Paul Phillips said Sturm’s leadership abilities helped set her apart from the rest of the field.
“All around, Dani was just a good team leader,” Phillips said.
“I think Heppner losing and Union/Cove going all the way, as well as Dani hitting and pitching as well as she did throughout the playoffs, helped. Her stats spoke for themselves.”
Sturm pitched complete-game shutouts in the state semifinals and the state title game for the Lady Cats.
“I think that helped seal the deal for her,” Phillips said.
Sturm is the second player to be named the state player of the year under Phillips. Jessy Reynolds earned the award three times, twice with Phillips.
Phillips was also recognized as the 2A/1A coach of the year for the first time after leading the Lady Cats to a 26-3 record.
“He’s a good coach,” Sturm said. “He deserves everything he got. He works hard. All of (the players) love him and respect him.”
Phillips said the award is more about the Union/Cove program as a whole.
“I’d much rather see the players recognized,” Phillips said. “(The award) is more a reflection of my coaching staff. I’m glad to have it, but I wouldn’t have earned it without the players and coaches.”
Other than Sturm, 11 Special District 6 players earned all-state honors.
Union/Cove’s Keesha Sarman earned first-team all-state honors in the infield, while Jaden Wright was a first-team outfielder.
Union/Cove’s Amber Fiorito was named a second-team infielder. According to Phillips, Fiorito missed the first team by one vote.
Kindra Moore and Carsyn Roberts of Union/Cove earned second-team honors as utility players, while teammate Kaci Langford was an honorable mention infielder along with Grant Union’s Kennedy Nash.
Enterprise/Joseph’s Amy Edison was an honorable mention at catcher.
“I think Amy was the best catcher we faced all year,” Phillips said.
Elgin/Imbler’s Darcy Kanoho, Enterprise/Joseph’s Kylie Willis and Grant Union’s Moraon Immoos were all honorable mention outfielders.