CHARLESTON - Argue whether cheerleading is a sport all you want. Don't argue whether cheerleaders are athletes.
Look no further than the Class AAA All-State softball captain for cross-referenced evidence to further confirm their status.
"Cheerleading is something I've been doing for as long as I've been playing softball, and believe me, it's hard to do both because they both require year-round work,'' said Logan senior pitcher/infielder Morgan Aguirre, who was chosen as the Class AAA All-State captain by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association after hitting .449 with five home runs, 15 doubles and 31 RBI while amassing a 15-5 record with 158 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA.
Led by Aguirre, the Wildcats (28-7) won the Region 3 championship for the fourth consecutive year and finished third in the state tournament for the second straight season. Logan has the longest active streak of consecutive Class AAA state tournament appearances, under Coach Randy Robinette.
Aguirre did not win a state softball championship. She was, however, a member of Logan's title-winning cheer squad of 2009. She said that she would not have gained the level of success she has reached on the diamond if not for her work with cheerleading.
''I would not be half the softball player I am if I didn't spend part of the summer and all of the fall and winter lifting people,'' she said. ''If you look at any picture of me pitching, my muscles look fake. That's from cheerleading.''
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. - The 2012 Class AAA high school softball squad as chosen and distributed by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
P Amy Rotriga, John Marshall, Jr.
P Kaity Hanna, Cabell Midland, Sr.
P CeCe Bailey, Parkersburg South, Sr.
P Alli Burdette, South Charleston, Jr.
P Mecca Henderson, Robert C. Byrd, Jr.
IF Kylie Howard, John Marshall, Jr.
IF Joni Tyree, Nicholas County, Sr.
IF Rachel Hickman, St. Albans, Sr.
IF Alyssa Cook, Lincoln County, Sr.
IF Morgan Kelley, Cabell Midland, Jr.
OF Aleks Lawson, Lincoln County, Sr.
OF Shannon Lyons, Jefferson, Sr.
OF Sydney Kaplan, Cabell Midland, Sr.
UTIL Morgan Aguirre, Logan, Sr. (capt.)
UTIL Alicia Noble, Robert C. Byrd, Jr.
UTIL Megan Garcia, John Marshall, Sr.
C Katie Chryssofos, Logan, Sr.
C Genna Trippett, Parkersburg South, Sr.
P Ali Haynes, St. Albans, Jr. (capt.)
P Brooke West, Lincoln County, So.
P Tara Hanson, Morgantown, Jr.
P Taylor Norman, Logan, Sr.
P Brooke Bailey, Greenbrier East, Sr.
IF Brooklyn Waddell, Buckhannon-Upshur, Jr.
IF Danielle Parks, Hedgesville, Sr.
IF Madi Casto, Hurricane, Fr.
IF Madi Marshall, St. Albans, So.
IF Taylor Wittekind, Parkersburg South, Sr.
OF Addie Fullen, Hurricane, Fr.
OF Morgan Hutchison, Lincoln County, Jr.
OF Alyssa George, John Marshall, So.
UTIL Courtney Rogers, Hurricane, Fr.
UTIL - Marissa Tucker, Wheeling Park, So.
UTIL - Athena Sayrie, Fairmont Senior, Jr.
C Emily Morton, East Fairmont, Sr.
C Kristin Lewicki, John Marshall, Jr.
Special Honorable Mention
Cassie Adkins, Spring Valley; Brittany Allison, Parkersburg; Ashley Bassel, Robert C. Byrd; Mariah Caudill, St. Albans; Karissa Coleman, Greenbrier East; Allie Dailer, Wheeling Park; Faith Farley, Winfield; Danielle Fluharty, North Marion; Reese Gandee, Ripley; Katelyn Hamilton, Parkersburg South; Bekah Honce, Bridgeport; Brittany Ingram, Musselman; Erin Kaplan, Cabell Midland; Jaime Miller, Elkins; Nicole Pierson, Hurricane; Tori Postlewait, East Fairmont; Amanda Salmons, Lincoln County; Lara Sedlock, Logan; Lauren Sizemore, Huntington; Tori Snyder, Fairmont Senior; Rachel Ward, George Washington; Sarah Winter, Riverside; Alexandria Witt, Jefferson; Morgan Wright, Buckhannon-Upshur; Lauren Young, Nicholas County.
Tyler Anderson, University; Lauren Bare, South Charleston; Rachel Bias, Huntington; Brianna Caison, Musselman; Brittany Chandler, Woodrow Wilson; Christina Collins, Washington; Emily Daniels, Huntington; Emily Davis, Hurricane; Megan Debastiani, Morgantown; Micah Dolan, Greenbrier East; Carly Greer, Wheeling Park; Carly Gregory, Buckhannon-Upshur; Makenzie Hesson, Ripley; Kasey Hickman, St. Albans; Julia Hightower, Cabell Midland; Ryne Hill, Ripley; Kelsi Johnson, Wheeling Park; Jessica Kennedy, Brooke; Hannah King, St. Albans; Chelsi Latocha, North Marion; Courtney Layhew, Hedgesville; Michaela Lewis-Lambert, Elkins; Adrienne Mullins, Woodrow Wilson; Cassidy Newbrough, Parkersburg; Kyley Pierce, Bridgeport; Sarah Pittman, Capital; Whitney Potts, Musselman; Katie Powell, Robert C. Byrd; Bailey Rabel, George Washington; Shannon Reardon, Brooke; Tori Riley, Lewis County; Whitney Robinson, Nicholas County; Tori Rovello, Bridgeport; Monique Rowe, University; Cassi Sargent, Hurricane; Carissa Saville, Hampshire; Taylor Scudiere, Morgantown; Chelsea Shepherd, Jefferson; Amanda Sigley, North Marion; Hannah Simmons, Lewis County; Lauren Simpson, Jefferson; Jenna Stear, Nicholas County; Kayla Summers, East Fairmont; Jessi Thevenin, George Washington; Rachelle Toppings, Logan; Kelsi Trippett, Elkins; Kelsey Wagoner, Buckhannon-Upshur; Morgan Watson, John Marshall; Taylor Wells, North Marion; Abbie Wilfong, Robert C. Byrd; Devin Williams, Washington; Megan Williams, Buckhannon-Upshur.
Aguirre, her class valedictorian at Logan, took one of three utility spots. Each of the other three teams that reached the state tournament landed their ace pitcher on the All-State list as well.
Junior Amy Rotriga (17-1, 182 strikeouts, 1.95 ERA) of state champion John Marshall, senior CeCe Bailey (21 victories, 194 K, 1.33 ERA) of runner-up Parkersburg South and Robert C. Byrd junior Mecca Henderson (22-13, 225 K) - who pitched all but five innings for the Eagles in 2012 - take three of the five pitcher spots.
Juniors Kaity Hanna of Cabell Midland (23-4, 157 K, 1.29 ERA) and Alli Burdette of South Charleston (12-8, 256 K, 0.78 ERA) are the two other pitchers.
Rotriga was one of three John Marshall players named to the first team.
Infielder Kylie Howard (.504, 5 HR, 13 doubles, 8 triples, 49 RBI) and senior utility player Megan Garcia (.444, 3 HR, 12 doubles, 47 RBI) were the others.
St. Albans junior pitcher Ali Haynes, who made the All-State team as a utility player in 2011, was named captain of the second team as a pitcher. Haynes was 22-5 with 117 strikeouts and a 1.27 ERA.
It marked the second consecutive year a St. Albans player was the second team captain. Senior shortstop Rachel Hickman (.367, .560 on-base percentage, 2 home runs, 38 steals) was named as a first-team infielder in 2012 after being the second-team captain a year ago.
Cabell Midland also had three selections. Junior first baseman Morgan Kelley (.367, 6 HR, 50 RBI) and senior outfielder Sydney Kaplan (.458, 2 HR, 38 RBI) joined Hanna on the list.
Lincoln County, which won the 2011 state title before being eliminated in regional play in 2012, landed two players on the list in the form of senior shortstop Alyssa Cook (.500, 4 HR, 49 RBI), who was named as an infielder, and senior center fielder Aleks Lawson. Lawson, who was joined by Kaplan and repeat selection Shannon Lyons of Jefferson in the outfield, hit .460 with 16 doubles.
Logan senior catcher Katie Chryssofos (.376, 10 HR, 38 RBI) was a repeat selection, and was joined at the position by Parkersburg South catcher Genna Trippett (.379, 11 HR, 40 RBI).
"Katie is a great ballplayer, and she has been my catcher pretty consistently since middle school, so we know how to read each other," Aguirre said. "When I get down, she knows it and comes to the mount to crack a joke and lighten my mood.
''Since I don't have the best sense of humor, I give more motivational speeches to keep her confidence up.''
The battery gave additional weight to its name in that both Aguirre and Chryssofos spent a large portion of the 2012 battling injuries.
''I played over half of the season with an injured forearm that still hasn't let up. Also, halfway through the season I was in a car wreck that made me pretty sore, so I was unhealthy to say the least,'' Aguirre said. ''Katie was always, like, 'Don't hurt yourself' because she knew exactly when I was hurting.''
Chryssofos caught a pitch wrong and injured her left hand earlier in the year, then banged up her right hand against a base. She played much of the second half of the season with both hands heavily taped.
"It was bad, but she battled through it all year and definitely gained my respect," Aguirre said.
Nicholas County senior Joni Tyree (.581 batting average) was a repeat selection in the infield, and Robert C. Byrd junior Alicia Noble - who began the season as a first baseman but due to team injuries played the second half of the year at shortstop and third base - was named as a utility player after hitting .478 with three homers and 47 RBI.