Heimberger’s power surge keys Waccamaw softball’s successful season

For The Sun NewsJune 7, 2014 

Emily Heimberger Waccamaw Softball

Waccamaw’s Emily Heimberger is the Toast of the Coast Softball Player of the Year.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • The team

    Player Of The Year

    Emily Heimberger

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Junior

    Position | Shortstop

    Notable | Class AA All-State selection set program’s single-season record with a .596 batting average. Recorded 39 RBIs, 44 runs scored, seven triples, six doubles and two home runs while piling up 33 stolen bases. Verbally committed to continue playing at Mississippi State.

    Kelsi Bachmann

    School | St. James

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Outfield

    Notable | All-Region VII-AAA honoree hit .407 with 33 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. Had an on-base percentage north of .500 and had only two errors all season.

    Julia Cole

    School | North Myrtle Beach

    Class | Junior

    Position | Outfield

    Notable | Hit .377 and led the region-champion Chiefs in runs (33), walks (19) and RBIs (27). She also had only two errors in 67 fielding attempts throughout the season.

    Shelby Cox

    School | Aynor

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Outfield

    Notable | Center fielder batted .390 with 31 RBIs, five triples and three home runs while striking out just twice all year. Had a slugging percentage of .780.

    Kady Edwards

    School | Conway

    Class | Senior

    Position | Utility

    Notable | Splitting time between catcher and outfield, North-South All-Star selection hit .564 with 44 hits, 32 runs scored and 18 RBIs for Region VI-AAAA runner-up Tigers.

    Taylor Hansis

    School | North Myrtle Beach

    Class | Junior

    Position | Pitcher

    Notable | Class AAA All-State selection pushed Chiefs to Region VII-AAA title. Had 133 strikeouts in 139 innings. Allowed 25 earned runs in 20 games and had 1.26 ERA.

    Madison Lowe

    School | Socastee

    Class | Senior

    Position | First base

    Notable | Francis Marion signee was named to the Class AAA All-State team and North-South All-Star squad after hitting .474 with 12 doubles, two triples and four home runs.

    McKenzie Lugin

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Junior

    Position | Pitcher

    Notable | Warriors’ workhorse finished the year 17-9 and helped Scott Streiffert’s team reach the Class AA Lower State finals for the second straight season. Also hit .330 with 30 RBIs.

    Taylor Mercer

    School | Georgetown

    Class | Senior

    Position | Pitcher

    Notable | North-South All-Star and Region VII-AAA selection finished the season with a 0.94 ERA while striking out 63 hitters. Also hit .319 with 27 RBIs.

    Crystyn Neely

    School | Georgetown

    Class | Junior

    Position | Second base

    Notable | First-team All-Region VII-AAA selection had a .980 fielding percentage while also hitting .435. Added nine stolen bases, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs.

    Hannah Price

    School | St. James

    Class | Senior

    Position | Third base

    Notable | Class AAA All-State selection, North-South honoree and Region VII-AAA Player of the Year hit .489 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs. Batted .613 during region play.

    Hannah Seaver

    School | Aynor

    Class | Junior

    Position | Catcher

    Notable | Class AA All-State selection and Furman verbal commitment hit .400 with 23 RBIs for a Blue Jackets team that advanced to the district finals.

It took one weekend in late February and early March for Scott Streiffert to realize Emily Heimberger’s game had evolved.

As a sophomore, the diminutive shortstop hit .458, a number that by itself draws plenty of respect. But that average was a product of Heimberger’s legs. She’d make any contact she could, and then rely on beating out a throw from an infielder.

A trip to the Bishop Blast tournament – an event loaded with some of the best schools in the state – proved something was different. Not only did Heimberger exit the tournament hitting .600, she was doing it while also hitting for power.

“That was very important,” said Heimberger, the Toast of the Coast Softball Player of the Year. “I used to not be able to hit it past the pitcher. That didn’t help when we had runners on base and needed to bring runs in.”

As the season progressed, Heimberger’s newfound skill did, too. She finished 2014 with 15 of the team’s 54 extra-base hits and had 39 RBIs. Still, she did all that without sacrificing batting average or speed.

She raised her average nearly 150 points to an eye-popping .596, a single-season school record. Heimberger, also stole 33 bases and scored 44 runs from her lead-off spot. All those numbers helped the Warriors win 17 consecutive games during the second half and reach the Class AA Lower State finals for the second straight season and the fourth time in six years.

Even with another year at Waccamaw remaining, Heimberger has already put her name next to some of the greats who have come through the program in the last decade.

“I don’t want to take anything away from kids we’ve had in the past, but Emily brings everything to the table,” Streiffert said. “She’s amazing on defense. She’s as fast as anyone I’ve ever coached. Now, she can hit for power. She can do everything. That’s what makes her so good.”

Streiffert contends his shortstop is even better defensively than she is with the bat. Still, what she accomplished offensively in 2014 makes that hard to believe.

“The fact that she hit more than 100 points higher than anyone in the history of our program is phenomenal,” Streiffert said. “We played very good competition. Emily was incredibly consistent. You just felt like you knew she was going to get a hit. There were times where I felt she was going to get a hit every time.”

The major jump in offensive statistics, though, isn’t going to change much for Heimberger’s future, she said. She is firmly locked in to the verbal commitment she made to Mississippi State earlier this year.

“I have my heart set on it,” Heimberger said. “Once I visited, I fell in love with it. It definitely is a big relief. … But it doesn’t mean I can slack off. You definitely have to keep working.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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