When the 2010 Georgia Athletic Coaches Association All-State softball teams were announced earlier this month, one glaring omission stood out right away.
The fact that Harlem High junior Kristen Mills was only named honorable mention leaves me dumbfounded.
First off, Mills pitched nearly every meaningful inning for the Bulldogs this season. Her 219 innings were more than any pitcher listed on the GACA's first and second all-state teams, and most pitchers honored pitched roughly half of the innings she did.
Harlem won the regular-season title in subregion 3-AAA North and finished second to Thomson in the Region 3-AAA Tournament.
After that, the Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
Despite throwing so many innings, Mills maintained an extremely high level throughout the season. She compiled 209 strikeouts while sporting a 1.73 ERA.
She was no slouch at the plate, either.
In 91 at-bats, Mills batted .396, with six home runs, 34 RBI and 27 runs scored.
She had an on-base percentage of .509, which means she reached base in more than half of her plate appearances. In addition, she had a slugging percentage of .786, higher than five of the 15 players on the first team and all but two of the 15 players on the second team.
While Harlem's subregion wasn't particularly difficult, it did include Thomson.
It's the same Thomson team that advanced to the Final Four.
Harlem coach Mike Leverett figures a Region Tournament championship or a spot in the Elite Eight would have helped Mills get noticed a little more. However, he said Thomson coach Jason Osborn told him he lobbied for Mills during the all-state selection process.
"Next year, maybe we'll get there and they'll realize she is among those elite pitchers," Leverett said.
Still, all else aside, look at some of the statistics of players who made the second team.
Caitlin O'Shea, a senior pitcher/outfielder at Allatoona High School, pitched 207 innings. She had 162 strikeouts and a 2.26 ERA. In 97 at-bats, O'Shea hit .247 and had a slugging percentage of .289.
Meanwhile, fellow Allatoona pitcher/outfielder Tressa Watson, a junior, had a 1.54 ERA, but pitched just 36 innings and had just 21 strikeouts. In 117 at-bats, Watson hit .385 with six home runs.
A pair of West Laurens pitchers had no statistics listed in their bio sections, yet they garnered first-team nods. They might have performed well this season, but a little statistical backing would help convince those who didn't see them play.
I'm not trying to bring those players down, but simply giving Mills' omission some perspective.
Allatoona advanced to the championship game in Class AAA, which probably helped their cause for postseason honors. But a full season has to count for something, right?
Were Mills' body of work and statistics not good enough? Sure, statistics don't always tell the entire story, though in many cases they are the primary way to differentiate between players.
That's because voting on all-state teams can be a tricky thing. For example, coaches from the Atlanta area will not have seen most of the players from South Georgia, and vice-versa.
Tricky as the selection process might be, Mills deserved more.
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