(Posted June 28, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Right-handed pitcher Brooke Mannon from West Jefferson has added another feather to her cap as Gatorade’s Ohio Softball Player of the Year.
Gatorade has been honoring state winners in 12 high school sports each year for the past 38 years. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and character demonstrated on and off the field. Mannon, 18, is the first softball player from West Jefferson High School to earn the designation.
“I was surprised. West Jefferson is a Div. III school. I figured it would go to someone at a higher level school,” Mannon said about the award announcement.
West Jefferson’s head softball coach, Jim Stevens, nominated Mannon for the honor. Gatorade’s selection committee takes into account nominations and input from other coaches, scouts, and media to choose the winners.
About Mannon, Stevens said, “She’s had such a stellar career in high school ball. To me, as a coach, and I’ve been coaching at West Jeff for a very long time, it’s an honor to share the field with a player of this caliber. She is a great kid altogether.”
Mannon stacked up impressive stats her senior season, compiling a record of 19-1 with a 0.30 earned run average. She struck out 259 batters, allowing 28 hits and 13 walks, in 116.2 innings pitched. She posted a .569 batting average with five home runs, 35 runs scored, and a 1.052 batting percentage. Extra Inning Softball ranked her as the nation’s No. 17 recruit in the Class of 2023.
When asked to name her favorite highlights of the 2023 season, Mannon didn’t mention the awards she accumulated, including first-team all-state, first-team all-Metro, and Central District Player of the Year. Instead, she talked in team terms.
“I really enjoyed winning districts this year,” she said. About softball as a whole, she added, “I really enjoyed the time I got to spend on the field with my teammates, especially in high school.”
Mannon started playing ball at 8 years old through the West Jefferson youth program. She went on to play travel ball for several years, played one year in middle school, and was a starter all four years of high school.
On the academic and service side, Mannon graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and was one of four valedictorians in her class. She served as vice president of student council and National Honor Society and volunteered as a middle school tutor and youth softball coach.
Mannon has signed a letter of intent to play softball at the University of Arizona, a softball powerhouse, this fall.
On competing at the college level, she said, “My goal is to try to get onto the field any way I can, whether pitching, running bases, in the outfield–anything I can do to help my team out. Also, I want to push everyone in the weight room, including myself. That’s a big part of my training.”
Mannon thanked her coaches, teammates, and parents for their support throughout her softball career. Her parents are Kevin and Joanna Mannon.