WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Lakota West High School senior KK Mathis was named Thursday morning as the Gatorade Ohio Softball Player of the Year.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Mathis as Ohio’s best high school softball player.
"This type of award shows how hard KK has worked her whole playing career," Lakota West coach Keith Castner said.
"She is very deserving of this award. Her leadership skills and love for the game makes her the player she is today."
Mathis, who had a weighted 4.0 grade-point average, learned of the prestigious honor from her family as she woke up Thursday morning.
"I was so excited," Mathis said. "It shows all your hard work paid off."
The James Madison University signee is a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year award which will be announced later this month.
"James Madison University is getting a great player but more importantly a great person," Castner said. "This award shows how strong our Lakota West softball family is today. Our softball staff loves KK and the 2021-22 softball family."
Mathis helped to lead the Firebirds to the Division I state title June 4 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Mathis was 3-for-3 with a two-run home run in the first inning, a double, two runs batted in and four runs scored.
Mathis allowed just two runs on five hits and struck out six batters in the state final. Mathis earned a 22-3 record in the circle, too.
"We've had a lot of great pitchers at Lakota West," Castner said after the game. "She's in the top. She wants the ball in her hand. She wants to get it done and I can't be more proud of her."
Mathis said she is still on cloud nine after winning the state championship. She watched the replay of the game this past Sunday.
"I can't really describe it all," Mathis said. "I'm just overfilled with joy. "It was such a special group of girls. It made it 10 times better."
Mathis batted .600 with 10 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 32 runs scored this season. She also hit 16 doubles and six triples with a .673 on-base percentage and 1.325 slugging percentage, according to the Gatorade news release and the Greater Miami Conference statistics.
Mathis said she is grateful to win the statewide award and feels blessed for the recognition.
"It means the world to me," Mathis said. "I'm so team and community oriented. This is big for Lakota West. It shows how awesome of a school and an athletic department we have."
Mathis joins recent Gatorade Ohio Softball Players of the Year Madi Ogden (2020-21, Williamsburg High School), Allison Smith (2019-20, Champion High School), Hope Straight (2018-19, Mount Vernon High School), and Megan Turner (2017-18, Champion High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
"KK is one of the most dominant, forceful leaders I’ve ever coached against,” Oak Hills softball coach Jackie Cornelius-Bedel said. “She is very athletic and a solid all-around softball player. The thing that sets KK apart from all other good softball players is her ability to lead. She demands the best from her teammates but also holds herself to an even higher standard.”