Reanna Perkins’ future was finalized six months before the start of softball season. She signed on to play for St. Bonaventure in September and had a season most players had longed for. Still, it wasn’t enough.
Perkins wanted to be a better hitter because she knew there was room to improve even though she hit .400 last season. Despite throwing every pitch for Royalton-Hartland this season, Perkins wanted to be able to play every position.
St. Bonaventure signed the senior as a utility player, so she spent most of the season attending drills to hone skills she would never use for the Rams. As she took the field, Perkins proved her right: she had more to offer.
Perkins recorded 176 strikeouts in 98 innings while hitting .520 with 32 RBIs and 10 homers, leading Roy-Hart to a Niagara-Orleans League championship and a trip to the Section VI Class B-2 semifinals.
Perkins’ work not only enhanced her vast list of skills, but also earned her the GNN Sports Softball Player of the Year title.
“My average wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be and there’s always room for improvement,” Perkins said. “I just thought if I keep working at it, keep swinging and doing my reps, I thought I could up my average a little bit and have doubles, triples and home runs.”
Perkins has scored safely in all but two games this season – both non-league competitions – and had 10 multi-hit performances. But her hitting power was significantly improved this spring, as nineteen of her 26 shots went for extra bases.
She also came through in sticky situations, going 4-for-5 in the season opener with five RBIs in an 11-7 win over Akron before later hitting a game with four RBIs and two homers in a 9-5 win over Wilson scored the year.
“It got into the clutch in certain situations,” Perkins said, “like when we were down and I needed to get more than a single or more than a double. It worked in my favor in a way.”
There were also improvements in the field. Perkins has always beaten batters in heaps, and at 18 she is believed to hold the school’s single-game record for strikeouts set last season.
She failed to repeat the mark that year but had 12 double-digit strikeout games, including a 17-strikeout contest against Medina on April 20.
Still, Perkins wanted to learn the other positions and took advantage of having a coach who’s experienced a similar path. Freshman head coach Taylor Kneeland was a standout pitcher for Roy-Hart from 2010-2015, but transitioned to outfield in college so she could work with Perkins if needed to help guide the transition.
“I had her in all the drills and played basically all the positions just so she could get used to playing other positions,” said Kneeland, who excelled at Mercyhurst for two years. “Whether it was infield or outfield work, she played well everywhere. Learning how much a drop step, glove up and running can help you when a ball is hit over your head. I really tried to teach her because then you’re two, three steps ahead.”
Some of her skills derive from genetics, as her father, Gerry Perkins, was a star infielder for Roy-Hart in the 1990s and a 1996 MLB draft pick for the Miami Marlins. She also credits some of the moves as a soccer goalkeeper. where she helped the Rams to their first section championship in school history that fall.
“This ability also helps me in the infield with lateral movements,” Perkins said. “Speed and agility in all sports helped me become a utility in (softball).”
With Perkins now viewing her high school career in the past tense, her stats are colorful and her accomplishments numerous. Under pressure, she found it difficult to find missed opportunities or regrets.
Not among the few was winning the school’s first section championship. She was part of three league championship teams, all unbeaten in the NE, but she never won sections. Roy-Hart suffered losses to Fredonia in each of the last three postseasons and fell to Eden in the 2018 Class B-2 Finals. Nevertheless, her memories are strong enough not to let the disappointment arise.
“I don’t think I could ask for much more from the team and from everything I’ve achieved,” said Perkins. “I had a lot of goals this year and I seemed to be able to achieve them.”
GNN Sports All Area Softball
• Bailey Briggs, Sr., Star Point: One of the top power hitters in western New York, Briggs averaged .562 this season with 26 RBIs and five homers. The third baseman recorded in 17 of 18 games and had 13 multi-hit games for the Spartans. Briggs also had eight games with multiple RBIs while 23 of her 36 hits went for extra bases. She hit three triples in a May 11 game against Williamsville East and had two homers against Amherst on May 16. Briggs is signed to play for Rutgers University next year.
• Brianna Delaney, Jr., Lockport: The Niagara Frontier League Player of the Year hit the ball all season, hitting .593 with 29 RBIs and four homers. Of Delaney’s 32 hits, 21 were extra base knocks. The third baseman had a .676 base percentage and 1.204 slugging percentage while also hitting 28 carries. She also had 17 stolen bases. As a pitcher, Delaney went 4-7 with a 2.44 ERA and hit 103 batters in 11 appearances. She gave up 25 earned runs in 72 innings and opponents hit just .153.
• Julia Dumais, Sr., Newfane: Dumais is an excellent contact hitter and has scored in all 14 games this season. She more than doubled her average from last season, hitting .688 with 10 RBIs. Dumais hit five doubles and two home runs. She had seven multi-hit games and a .778 on-base percentage with a 1.218 slugging percentage. On base, Dumais was successful on 27 of 29 steal attempts and scored 16 runs. As a catcher, she hasn’t recorded a mistake in the past two years. Dumais wants to play at Princeton next year.
• Rian Faery, So., Wilson: Building on a strong freshman season, Faery became one of the best all-rounders in the Niagara-Orleans League. The second catcher hit .639 with 38 RBIs and 13 extra base hits. She hit three home runs, two by Roy Hart star Reanna Perkins. Faery had 11 multi-hit and 11 multi-RBI in 16 games. She had five straight RBI games, including a performance against Newfane where she had three doubles and a triple. Faery also recorded 21 stolen bases in 22 attempts.
• Julia Kwitchoff, Sun., Niagara Wheat Field: Kwitchoff emerged as one of the best all-around players in western New York that season, as a threat in the circle and on the plate. The Niagara Frontier League Pitcher of the Year won 12 games while averaging a 2.36 ERA. She struck out 136 batters in 80 innings, averaging 19.4 strikeouts per seven innings. Kwitchoff also hit .581 that season, leading the NFL with 51 RBIs and hitting seven home runs for league-winning Niagara Wheatfield.
• Elanna Lysiak, Sr., Niagara Wheatfield: Lysiak is perhaps the paragon of consistency, scoring .508 for the second straight season. She did 32 runs, one of her 33 runs last season. The first baseman also blasted five homers for the second year in a row to again earn first-team All-NFL honors. Lysiak was also dangerous as a baserunner, swiping 24 bases and scoring 34 runs this season. She was GNN Softball Player of the Year last year and Volleyball Player of the Year this fall. Lysiak is set to play for St John’s University next year.
• Lilly Monthony, Jr., barker: The first baseman made a production jump this season to provide Barker with a big hitter in the lineup. She improved her batting average by 200 points and drove in 20 more runs, hitting .516 and driving 31 runs this spring. Monthony had nine multi-hit games, including a five-hit, four-RBI game against Medina on May 11. Monthony had her first varsity home run of her career on May 10 against Roy-Hart.
• Izzy Pezdek, Jr., Big Island: Pezdek performed in circles and on court to lead Grand Island to the Class A-2 Section VI Finals that season. She went 10-4 with a 2.04 ERA and hit 90 batters in 82 1/3 innings. Pezdek also hit .476 and drove in 18 runs. She had back-to-back two-hit, 10-strikeout games against Niagara Wheatfield and Kenmore East in the same week. Pezdek allowed three earned runs and 10 hits in three starts during sections while adding three RBIs and a home run against Cheektowaga in the semifinals.
• Ava White, Sun., Niagara Falls: White, a workhorse in the Niagara Falls circuit, was going 8-7 this season with a 3.38 ERA but streaking 105 2/3 innings and knocking out 113 batters. White threw two shutouts this season. White didn’t give up a earned run in five starts and had three double-digit strikeout performances this season. She also had a one-hit shutout from Grand Island on April 6. At the plate, White hit .407 and drove in seven runs.
Nick Sabato can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NickSabatoGNN.