For the past four seasons, Palo Verde softball coach Kelly Glass has answered countless questions about star pitcher Melissa McCormick.
Now Glass finds herself with one more: How do the Panthers go about replacing one of the top players in the program’s history?
The answer might come next year, but it won’t be easy, especially considering McCormick just finished leading the Panthers to the program’s first Class 4A state championship.
McCormick is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Class 4A state player of the year. She hit .598 with four home runs, 14 doubles and 57 RBIs and was 23-8 with a 2.04 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 182 innings.
“She’s everything you want in a player,” Glass said. “She’s one of the smartest softball players I’ve ever coached. She doesn’t just throw. She thinks before she throws. She sets up hitters, and she just wants it more than anyone else.”
A four-time first-team all-state honoree, McCormick was one of only three seniors on the Panthers.
Palo Verde captured the Sunset Region title but lost its first game in the state tournament before rattling off four straight wins — all four collected by McCormick.
“She fully developed this season,” Glass said. “She has become the most coachable player, filled in a big-time leadership role.”
In the region and state tournaments, McCormick was 6-1 with a 0.62 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings, including allowing just one earned run in 17 innings in three games on championship day when the Panthers beat Bishop Manogue and then collected two wins over Centennial to claim the title.
McCormick was at her best against the archrival and state runner-up Bulldogs, who lost all seven of their games against Palo Verde this season.
In those games, McCormick was 7-0 with a 0.62 ERA, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 45 innings. She also hit .478 with a home run, five doubles and seven RBIs.
“She led by example,” Glass said. “The younger kids saw that and followed. After our losses, she would do a very good job of coming back the next day focused and ready to work to improve.”
McCormick has signed to play next season at Towson University near Baltimore. She leaves with 959 career strikeouts in 726 innings and having driven in 101 runs in the past two seasons.
“She can be very successful,” Glass said of McCormick’s college prospects. “She’ll crush the crap out of the ball.”
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.In-depth high school sports coverage