The area was peppered this season with freshmen softball players who made a huge impact for their teams. But none made a bigger splash or impact at the level that Pendleton Heights rookie catcher Kieli Ryan did this year, making her the THB Sports Awards 2019 Girls Breakout Athlete of the Year.
Installed as the starting catcher for a team with high expectations, Ryan not only fit right in, she became one of the top offensive players for the team and in the area.
Ryan hit .493 this season with seven home runs and 32 RBI. She had a total of 37 hits including a team-best 11 doubles, posted an on-base percentage of .552 (second best on the team), a slugging percentage of .920, and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) percentage of 1.472, both team highs. In 87 plate appearances, Ryan struck out just six times all season while drawing 9 walks.
With Ryan behind the plate defensively, the PH pitching staff, led by Softball-Pitcher Athlete of the Year Jordan Benefiel, posted a team earned run average of 1.30. Rarely did the ball get past Ryan and make it to the backstop as the staff uncorked just 12 wild pitches and Ryan herself committed just one error all year, with a .996 fielding percentage.
During one three-game stretch, all conference wins against Greenfield-Central, Mount Vernon, and Delta, Ryan was 6-for-9 with a double, two home runs and six RBI.
In the sectional championship loss to Mount Vernon, Ryan collected two of the four Arabian hits, including a double that just missed leaving the park for a home run.