Cause for celebration

Nani Valencia gives Great Crossing softball assistant coach Dave Woolums a low five while rounding third base after hitting a home run in a win at Bourbon County in May. Valencia hit eight out of the park in all this season on her way to an all-state selection, announced over the weekend.

Two state championships at Scott County and an integral role in Great Crossing’s district championship and top-10 ranking in its inaugural season already assured Leilani Valencia a prime place in the community’s softball legend.

The slugger they call “Nani” supplemented that status over the weekend with one final honor. She was named first team all-state by the Kentucky Softball Coaches’ Association.

Valencia, who played first base and pitched while batting clean-up for the Warhawks, was one of 11 leading vote-getters among schools in the upper one-third of enrollment.

Joining Valencia on the first team all-state roster were Claire Lehmkuhler of Woodford County, Riley Hull of Pulaski County, Macy Krohman of Simon Kenton, Emily Reynolds and Carolyn Pitcock of South Warren, Abby Newman of Daviess County, Kyndal Tinnell and Emily Williams of Butler, Rylie Grantz of Lafayette and Skylar Jacob of Madison Central.

Krohman was named Miss Kentiucky Softball, was Lehmkuhler was chosen Class 3A player of the year.

Tinnell, Williams and Butler  defeated Newman and Daviess County, 13-2, to win the KHSAA state championship Sunday in Lexington.

Valencia batted above .500 with a team-high eight home runs and 42 RBI for Great Crossing (23-8), which reached the 11th Region semifinals before falling to Lexington Catholic.

She also logged four wins, four saves and a 1.75 ERA as a pitcher for the Warhawks,

Her six-year varsity career included a role in Scott County’s second (2016) and third (2018) state titles. Valencia was in the starting lineup as a freshman in 2018 along with her older sister, Princess.

Prior to her senior season, Valencia signed to play Division I college softball at Western     Kentucky University.

Valencia will play for the East Senior all-stars in a series of games Tuesday and Wednesday at South Warren High School.

She will be joined by Great Crossing teammates Bianca Ward and Layne Ogle, who were selected to the East junior squad.

Tuesday’s games feature the East seniors against the East juniors at 9 a.m. Central, followed at 11 a.m. by a showdown between the West juniors and seniors. The East juniors face the West seniors at 1:30 p.m., with the East seniors and West juniors wrapping up the day at 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday features a senior game at 10 a.m. and a junior clash at 12:30 p.m.

Ward, a catcher, banged out seven home runs for the Warhawks. Ogle was GC’s primary pitcher, picking up 11 wins with an ERA under 3.00.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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