FAIRMONT — East Fairmont’s Madison Corbin and North Marion’s Bailey Malnick had already made their marks on the rest of the Big 10 Conference during their first two high school seasons, but this year as juniors, they entered another stratosphere as far as their two-way impact.
East Fairmont’s Blair Nuzum and Fairmont Senior’s Mikayla Shepherd, however, were total newbies as freshmen. But that didn’t stop either from flashing the two-way abilities of Corbin or Malnick this season as the pair of neophytes quickly found their footing.
On Monday, all four of Corbin, Malnick, Nuzum and Shepherd represented Marion County on the first-team All-Big 10 squad, as selected by Big 10 coaches, giving all three county teams a first-team selection.
Another five players from the county nabbed second-team All-Big 10 spots, with North Marion’s trio of seniors in Cara Minor, Ashton Malnick and Rylee Collins joined by East Fairmont senior Shay Swiger and junior Tori Lambert.
East Fairmont coach Steve Swiger was named the Big 10 Coach of the Year in recognition of a breakthrough campaign from the Lady Bees as they amassed a 19-9 record and advanced to the Class AA Region I championship series for the first time in the last five seasons. Swiger and the Bees’ signature victory came in the sectional final against Oak Glen — a team EFHS lost to twice in the regular season — in a series-deciding Game 3 on the road. The Bees outlasted the Golden Bears 8-5 in nine innings for a thrilling extra-innings comeback to take the final two games of the series en route to the Region I, Section 2 championship for the first time since 2014.
Swiger may have been the brain trust behind the Bees’ resurgent season, but it was the players who ensured Swiger’s vision to resurrect a quality program was fulfilled. No one was more of a buttress in that quest than Corbin, the Bees’ junior ace on the mound and leadoff hitter in the box, who was named to the all-conference first team as a pitcher.
Corbin, a two-way phenom since entering the high school ranks, has come to epitomize the Bees’ program turnaround as a scrappy bunch with an everlasting competitive flame. Swiger has touted Corbin’s vicious competitiveness as an example for the team as a whole throughout the past two seasons, and she remained the Bees’ rock this season.
Even as she battled through a hip flexor injury for the latter part of the season, Corbin anchored the Bees in the pitching circle, where she posted a 2.17 ERA in the circle with 115 strikeouts versus 37 walks in 93.2 innings pitched en route to claiming the Times West Virginian Pitcher of the Year award.
She was also a dynamo offensively, leading the Bees in nearly every hitting category. Her 523 batting average, .580 on-base percentage, .852 slugging percentage and 1.432 OPS were all team-highs in metrical categories, while her 46 hits, 19 extra-base hits — which included four triples and three homers — and 37 runs were also team-highs in terms of raw totals.
Nuzum, who was selected to the all-conference first-team as an outfielder, was a fast-advancing protege to Corbin as a freshman for the Bees this season.
The neophyte emerged as the team’s definitive No. 2 pitcher, going 7-1 in eight starts on the mound, including a Game 2 must-win against Oak Glen in the sectional final series. Nuzum posted 4.44 ERA in those eight starts and 13 overall appearances, collecting 39 strikeouts versus 19 walks in 47.1 innings of work.
At the plate, she established herself as a key cog in the middle of the Bees’ order, with Coach Swiger particularly enamored at her proficiency for deciphering and making contact on change-up pitches. For the season, Nuzum finished with a .342 batting average, .409 on-base percentage and .443 slugging percentage, while collecting 19 runs scored and 22 RBIs on 27 total hits.
Bailey Malnick, meanwhile, became one of the most feared bats in the conference for North Marion this season, with the junior leadoff hitter’s appetite for the long ball spelling doom for opposing pitchers. Behind multiple-homer games against Preston and Fairmont Senior — with her also amassing a whopping six RBIs in the latter — Malnick bashed seven home runs this season as she posted splits of a .382 batting average, .447 on-base percentage and .658 slugging percentage. She also tallied 29 total hits with 26 runs scored and 17 RBIs.
Malnick also stitched together another impressive defensive season as a middle infielder at second base for the Huskies en route to earning Times West Virginian All-Marion County team honors to pair with her first-team all-conference honors at the spot.
Finally, for Fairmont Senior, Shepherd glimpsed a potentially dreamy future for the Lady Polar Bears as she stepped in and immediately became a rock for FSHS in the box and as a corner infielder at third base, where she was named to the All-Big 10 first-team.
Shepherd, who batted in the No. 2 hole for the Lady Polar Bears nearly all season, proved herself to be a versatile and disciplined hitter, capable of dinging singles to gaps or gripping up with extra-base-hit power. In the field, her arm strength took to the needed velocity from the far corner from the outset.
Shepherd, who was named to all-conference first-team as a third baseman, nabbed a spot on the Times West Virginian All-Marion County team as a well as utility player.
On the Big 10 second team, Minor headlines a trio of NMHS seniors after winning Times West Virginian Hitter of the Year. Minor was a handful for opposing pitchers in the Huskies’ clean-up spot, hitting a glitzy .588 with a .636 on-base percentage, .897 slugging percentage and a whopping 1.533 OPS. Minor, whose slashing lines were all team highs, also led the Huskies with 16 extra-base hits — including two homers — and 25 RBIs.
Minor, however, was selected to the all-conference second team as a pitcher, where she took on quite the workload as NMHS’s ace. She finished the season with 86.1 innings pitched, posting a 4.90 ERA with 55 strikeouts versus 20 walks.
Ashton Malnick’s defensive chops combined with power hitting were again at the crux of NMHS’s play both ways, and the senior earned her all-conference second-team nod at shortstop. In addition to her fielding expertise, Malnick, who also made the Times West Virginian All-Marion County team, also raked at .474 from the plate with a trio of triples and homers. She posted a .512 on-base percentage with a .750 slugging percentage with 28 runs scored and 20 RBIs.
Collins’ spot on the all-conference second team to round out NMHS’s senior threesome comes in right field, where she also earned a big on the Times West Virginian All-Marion County team. Collins finished her NMHS career with a .353 batting average and .411 on-base percentage.
Rounding out the second-team Marion County selections are East Fairmont’s Lambert and Shay Swiger.
Lambert, a junior, was one of the finest two-way catchers in the conference this season as she also earned the catcher spot on the Times West Virginian All-Marion County team. Lambert provided serious power from the Lady Bees’ clean-up spot, connecting for a team-high 32 RBIs on a .482 average with a .671 slugging percentage and 1.201 OPS.
Swiger, a senior and the daughter of coach Steve Swiger, was a key infielder for East Fairmont all season long, be on the corner at third base or up the middle at second base. Swiger, whose spot on the all-conference second team comes at second base, hit .278 at the plate this season with a .346 on-base percentage.